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‘PR stunt’: Planned Parenthood study claims off-label use of abortion drugs is ‘exceedingly safe’

Planned Parenthood’s 'study' was 'a public relations stunt' designed to 'make these abortions seem safer than they really are,' says Operation Rescue's Cheryl Sullenger.
Fri Jan 30, 2015 - 2:47 pm EST
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LOS ANGELES, January 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- As more states pass laws cracking down on abortion businesses that prescribe abortion drugs later in pregnancy or in different dosages than FDA guidelines, industry giant Planned Parenthood has released a study claiming to prove that such off-label use of the drugs is “exceedingly safe and effective.”

The nation’s largest abortion business examined the client histories of approximately 13,000 women who purchased chemical abortions at their Los Angeles facility between April of 2006 and May of 2011 and carried through with follow-up after their abortions.  The study did not look at women who purchased abortion drugs, but did not return to Planned Parenthood for their follow-up care.

Their records showed that the failure rate for chemical abortions was 3.75 times higher when the drugs were given after the FDA’s 49-day cutoff, requiring women to undergo surgery to complete the botched abortion.  However, the abortion giant said that the overall risk of such complications was still “low,” and that “hospitalization was rare.”

Based on their analysis, Planned Parenthood concluded that abortionists who ignore the FDA guidelines still end up with a “primary outcome” of “successful abortion,” and that states should back off on requiring them to adhere to FDA recommendations when selling women abortion drugs.

“This study reinforces the safety and efficacy of the [off-label] regimen for medical abortion … through 63 days estimated gestational age, and contributes to the existing evidence against restrictions requiring use of the FDA-approved regimen in the United States,” the report’s authors wrote.

Operation Rescue spokeswoman Cheryl Sullenger, whose organization closely tracks abortion-related injuries and complications, dismissed Planned Parenthood’s report as self-serving and biased.

“They have a vested interest in making sure that their own study says that those abortions are safe,” Sullenger told LifeSiteNews.  “But … we know that there are women who [have complications] who will just go to the emergency room if they have a problem, so Planned Parenthood would never know.”

According to Sullenger, because the study did not look at the experiences of women who purchased abortion pills from Planned Parenthood but failed to return for follow-up, it is likely that women who experienced serious complications from their chemical abortions – especially those who required hospitalization – are underrepresented in the results. 

The authors of a similar Planned Parenthood study released in 2012 to combat a spate of state laws outlawing unsupervised “telemed” abortions admitted in their findings that a large number of their clients never report back for follow-up after receiving abortion pills.   As a result, they said, any complications those women experience remain unknown.

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Meanwhile, a large Finnish study found that even under the best conditions, chemical abortions had four times more complications than surgical abortions. Women who took abortion pills hemorrhaged over seven times more often than surgical patients, had more failed abortions that required surgical follow-up, and suffered a 20 times greater risk of operative injuries from emergency surgery as compared to surgical abortion patients.

Sullenger said Planned Parenthood’s so-called “study” was “a public relations stunt” designed to “make these abortions seem safer than they really are.” 

“Planned Parenthood knows that there’s a big push to limit the use of the abortion pill, especially later [in pregnancy],” Sullenger told LifeSiteNews.  “They want to be able to push [use of abortion drugs] beyond FDA guidelines; that’s the whole deal.” 

Sullenger noted that with 17 states having passed restrictions on so-called telemed abortions, where abortionists sell abortion drugs over video chat to women in remote locations – without ever performing a physical exam or verifying a woman’s pregnancy – Planned Parenthood is feeling the pinch when it comes to their bottom line.  As a result, they’re fighting harder than ever to protect the remaining gains they’ve made in the abortion drug market by using the pills outside of the FDA-approved window.

“[The study] is incredibly self-serving and biased,” Sullenger said.  “I don’t think we can take those statistics they’ve been putting out seriously.” 

Planned Parenthood’s newest report can be found in the current issue of the journal Contraception, a project of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (formerly the Association of Planned Parenthood Professionals).


  abortion, fda, medical abortion, planned parenthood

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