Self-managed abortion through pills is safe, private and effective. Media outlets have a role to play in stopping the spread of misinformation.
Since the fall of Roe, there have been countless attempts to chill speech about abortion, and misinformation has run rampant. Just last month, a prominent newspaper published one of the most egregious examples yet: an op-ed by David Reardon titled “Coercive Abortions Are at the Heart of the FDA Abortion Pill Case.”
Reardon holds a degree from Pacific Western University, an unaccredited correspondence school that closed in 2006 after a lawsuit from the state of Hawaii. Medical professionals and researchers have repeatedly criticized his research for methodological flaws and biases—and reproductive health experts have argued that his conclusions are not supported by scientific evidence.
Misinformation about abortion and other types of reproductive healthcare is both frustrating and extremely harmful from a public health perspective, and countering it is an ongoing battle. I know this firsthand, as both a practicing OB-GYN and executive director of Mayday Health, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit created to empower people to make informed reproductive healthcare choices, including how to access safe abortion pills in any U.S. state.
As a medical professional, I felt it was my duty to give the millions of pregnant people misled by people like Reardon the correct information regarding this life-saving medication.
CLAIM 1: “The FDA likely failed to follow the law in loosening safety standards on these pills.”
TRUTH: The FDA, tasked with ensuring medication safety and effectiveness before reaching the consumer market, approved mifepristone for medication-induced abortion in September 2000. Their process included rigorous scientific and ethical review processes—including clinical trials demonstrating mifepristone’s effectiveness and safety for terminating early pregnancies.
At the time, the FDA’s approval was based on data collected from France and the United States, where the drug had been used for decades under medical supervision. The FDA also held advisory committee meetings to evaluate the drug’s safety and efficacy.
CLAIM 2: “Mail-order abortion pills are not safe.”
TRUTH: Abortion pills have been FDA-approved for over 20 years. Self-managing an abortion with abortion pills is a safe and highly effective pregnancy termination method. They’re among the most studied drugs in the world, and they’re on the WHO list of essential medicines. They are safer than Tylenol.
CLAIM 3: “My latest peer-reviewed research on this crisis shows that almost 70 percent of women with a history of abortion describe it as coerced, unwanted or contrary to their own preferences and values. In many cases, the pressure to abort escalates into emotional or physical abuse.”
TRUTH: It is well known that quite the opposite is true: Pregnant people who could not get the abortion they wanted are far more likely to experience mental health disorders, poverty, physical violence and life-threatening medical complications related to their ongoing pregnancies. In stark contrast to Reardon’s unfounded claim is actual research showing that abortion, including self-managed medication abortion, is remarkably safe and effective and is not linked to any increased risk of mental health disorders.
The “peer-reviewed research” Reardon refers to is an article from the disgraced medical journal Cureus—a publication known to be methodologically flawed. An Emory University study found Cureus to be the number two most predatory and untrustworthy institutional publication in the country.
CLAIM 4: “Abortion contributes to negative psychological effects, especially among women pressured to abort.”
TRUTH: Abortion is not linked to any long-term physical or mental side effects. It is a healthcare decision best made by the pregnant person. In fact, 71 percent of Americans say decisions about terminating a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor, rather than regulated by the government.
In 2008, the American Psychological Association released a comprehensive review that found no credible evidence that a single abortion causes mental health problems.
While Reardon likely intends the phrase “mail-order pills” to shock and upset his readers, it’s nothing to be scared of—in fact, it’s a life-saving method for many. And Americans deserve to know it’s safe, private and effective.
Note: Threeforfreedom.com, a website run by Mayday, informs the public on steps they can take to secure their reproductive freedom, including accessing birth control and emergency contraception (Plan B). Mayday Health does not ask for money or personal info—nor does it give medical or legal advice. Mayday Health also does not sell, handle or benefit from abortion pills and is not affiliated with providers.
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