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Women Deserve To Be Empowered By Doctors, Not Rushed To Medical Abortion Without Them

Expecting mothers deserve attentive medical care just like all other patients.

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Picture this: A woman has an episode of chest pain. Another has numbness in her right arm and leg. A third woman finds a lump in her breast. And another has an unexpected positive pregnancy test.

Each of these women likely has questions: Am I having a heart attack? Am I having a stroke? Do I have breast cancer? Should I deliver my baby or have an abortion?

Each of these women deserves to be empowered with information. And in today’s health-care system, the first three patients are unanimously told “go see your doctor.” Yet, the one with the unplanned pregnancy is frequently told to do just the opposite. Instead, minimal federal requirements encourage her to seek a self-managed chemical abortion and obtain drugs online, by mail, or by other means that remove her from the doctor-patient relationship.

But expecting mothers deserve attentive medical care too.

I’ve helped women deliver thousands of babies in my 25 years as a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist. In my current role as the medical director at a medical clinic in Wilson, North Carolina, I care for women of all backgrounds facing unplanned pregnancies. My goal with each patient is to support and empower mothers and their families with compassionate and professional medical care.

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Chemical abortions involve the use of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to induce an abortion. Sadly, this abortion regimen is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use up to 10 weeks of gestation. What’s worse is that use of these abortion drugs is increasing. 

Just this year the Department of Justice announced the U.S. Postal Service can continue to deliver prescribed abortion drugs, even in states where abortion access has been restricted. Similarly, the FDA changed a rule to allow abortion drugs to be dispensed at retail pharmacies, and state laws restricting the dispensing of the drugs have been challenged in court.

These developments do a great disservice to women by removing the opportunity for them to receive information that can empower them to make informed decisions. This is especially true when the dangers of self-administered abortion are considered.

Risk of No Ultrasound

“Treating” an unintended pregnancy by self-managed chemical abortion not only kills an unborn child but can have life-threatening consequences for the mother. Two health risks associated with abortion drugs come from a lack of ultrasound screening, something easily accessible at a pregnancy resource center medical clinic like the one where I see patients. Women can often obtain same-day appointments and free ultrasounds at these clinics. 

Ultrasounds are necessary to accurately date pregnancies. Women often do not accurately recall the date of their last menstrual period, causing many to miscalculate how many weeks pregnant they are at the time of their positive pregnancy test. The problem is chemical abortion drugs are intended for use only within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Those who use the drugs beyond that time unknowingly risk severe hemorrhaging and other complications.

Ultrasounds are also needed to screen for ectopic pregnancy, a condition that endangers the life of the mother. The drugs used to induce an abortion do not treat ectopic pregnancy. Instead, women who self-administer their chemical abortion drugs without an ultrasound also risk delayed detection and treatment of ectopic pregnancies, increasing the risk of greater internal bleeding and death.

Women deserve holistic care from a doctor who can discuss their history, perform a physical exam, order tests, and discuss treatment options, including the risks, benefits, alternatives, side effects, and costs involved. Medical practitioners can and must provide better care for women who look to them for guidance. Denying them thorough care is nothing more than a disservice to women, who deserve excellent medical attention that empowers them with more information and solutions, not fewer.


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