Health

The Underreported Dangers Of The At-Home Abortion Pill

By Nicole Dominique··  7 min read
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Every year, the internet goes into a heated debate on the topic of abortion. But this year was slightly different due to the leaked draft opinion indicating a possible overturn of Roe v. Wade in the future, causing many pro-abortion women to take matters into their own hands.

Before I begin with this topic, please know that I try to empathize with everyone. I try to place myself in every woman’s shoes, regardless of their situation or their viewpoints. I always try to understand why they feel the way that they do. With that being said, I understand that raising a child can be hard. I understand how intimidating the idea of birth can be to women and the responsibilities that come with it. But I also recognize the beauty in being a mother and the process of birthing another soul into this world, and the amazing moments you get to share with them. 

But regardless of what stance someone may have on this sensitive subject, there is one thing that I am very concerned about when it comes to women who are seeking abortions. As usual, most people turn to decisions that may be harmful in the long run when they feel they’re at a loss for solutions. This year, many women sought out alternative ways to induce their own abortions with abortion pills. Never mind the fact that abortion pills may not even be effective – we need to talk about how they can cause negative side effects, harming women’s bodies in the process.

What Is the Abortion Pill?

Misoprostol, also known as an abortion pill, is used for stomach ulcers while taking NSAIDs like ibuprofen or Advil. Taking it helps reduce side effects from ulcers such as heavy bleeding. It has other uses as well, like abortion and inducing labor. Whenever someone wants to induce an abortion using this pill, they are given mifepristone first, a medicine that stops the production of the hormone progesterone, which is essential to maintain a pregnancy. What most people don’t realize is that mifepristone is a synthetic steroid. 

The abortion pill includes both misoprostol and mifepristone, which stops the production of progesterone.

Most women who take mifepristone commonly experience nausea, abdominal pain, period irregularities, and severe reactions including anaphylactic shock, toxic epidermal necrolysis (a severe skin reaction), endometrial hyperplasia (an overgrowth of tissue in the lining of the womb), and more. What most people fail to realize is the differences in biology that we humans share. This means many women could be highly sensitive to some of the medications they are prescribed without realizing it until it’s too late. If a woman who is highly sensitive to mifepristone takes it, she can experience some of the adverse effects listed above. 

The Dangers of Misoprostol They Don’t Tell You

But going back to misoprostol. If you look this topic up on Google, you’ll find countless articles of women sharing their stories of their experiences with this drug. Most tell you not to fear the horror stories or the side effects of this pill. At face value, when looking up “misoprostol,” you could even argue that there are more articles on its effectiveness in inducing abortions compared to information on its potential side effects, but there’s probably a good reason for this: as of right now, only 28 states are required to report complications post abortion. Therefore, there isn’t really a good way of keeping track of any of these studies. 

So I urge women to look deeper, to keep searching, because on the other side of these positive news stories on misoprostol are the documented experiences of women who were blindsided by this abortion pill. One woman named Dorine shared her experience after taking misoprostol. 

Dorine said, “What blindsided me, apart from being battered by the misoprostol, were the huge cystic boils that soon covered my neck, shoulders, and back. I was also overcome by fatigue – an utter lack of ability to do anything more strenuous than sleep or lie on the couch. My brain felt so fuzzy, English seemed like a second language, and I couldn't work. On top of all that came depression: I sobbed constantly. I wouldn't leave the house. I stopped showering.”

“On top of all that came depression: I sobbed constantly. I wouldn't leave the house. I stopped showering.”

If that didn’t seem bad enough, Dorine recalled the discussion she had with her gynecologist after: "‘I think it's underreported, but probably one in three women have dramatic side effects,’ he told me. My body was in hormonal chaos – pregnancy hormones clashing with antipregnancy hormones clashing with stress hormones. ‘I've seen a lot of women go through – I don't want to call it postpartum, but postevent – melancholy that's more dramatic than people want to admit,’ he said. He prescribed antidepressants. ‘One day, you'll feel just like your old self.’ It took nine months.”

Postevent-melancholy? Well, that’s something pro-abortion articles definitely don’t mention. It makes you wonder – how many women have experienced similar psychological consequences from the abortion pill? How many of these complications are underreported and bypassed by agencies like Planned Parenthood? It seems the community that rallies behind abortion for the sake of “mental health” or “bodily autonomy” has completely disregarded the post-abortion depression that many women face. 

According to the Department of Psychology at the Franciscan University at Steubenville, the process of terminating a pregnancy affects the natural progression that occurs during pregnancy. One of the things that gets disrupted is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a term describing the relationship between the parts of the brain like the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal gland. They all play an incredibly important role in stress and hormones. One of these hormones is glucocorticoids, which are also implicated in depression, mania, and psychosis. Perhaps this explains the many stories of women experiencing “post-abortion syndrome” online. When we mess with our bodies, we must look at the process in a holistic manner, which includes the chemical and hormonal imbalances that we cause in the process of interrupting our bodies’ natural cycles. 

Fatal Bacterial Infections

But that’s not all. When Dorine continued to investigate the other complications women faced, she learned the following: “Much later, I also learned about several deaths linked to the abortion pill. In one case, it was given to a woman who never should have received it – she had an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy and died from associated hemorrhaging. But five other women developed mysterious, fatal bacterial infections. Reading about them, my stomach twisted. I'd used the pills exactly as they had. I couldn't help but wonder: Could I have died?”

Using misoprostol for abortions can seriously compromise your immune system. 

Perhaps she could have. According to scientists from the University of Michigan Health System, using misoprostol for abortions can compromise the immune system. According to their findings, out of the hundreds of women who took misoprostol, eight died from a bacterial infection caused by Clostridium sordellii. The scientists found that rats injected with misoprostol in the uterus and then exposed to this bacteria had a higher mortality rate – 80% of them died in just four days. Their studies on cell culture also reported that certain defense systems in immune function were compromised. These results show implications for women who have bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections like toxoplasma gondii, which more than 40 million people in the U.S. are infected with. 

Women must ask themselves if these adverse effects are truly worth it, especially when misoprostol is not even 100% effective. A report from 2015-2016 concluded that 19 women from Madagascar who used this drug to induce abortions experienced the following: failed abortions, prolonged bleeding, hemorrhage, serious pain, and infection. 

Closing Thoughts

With all of these findings, how could these popular websites comfortably promote misoprostol? These same people claim to care about women, yet they seem to overlook the consequences of promoting these pills to the public. It seems we just have a terrible habit of overlooking anything that may go against our personal views, harming others in the process. As a woman, I believe that we must go beyond our irrational beliefs and feelings. We must stay grounded and look at everything objectively and question these popular advice columns that masquerade as being “pro-women” while only harming our bodies in the process. It’s time we support women by promoting their health and wellness, instead of supporting the status quo. 

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  Body Issues  Abortion
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