Our Reasoned Response to the Abortion Industry’s Claims that Medical Abortions Don’t Require Seeing A Doctor.

With Wisconsin’s recent passage of Act 217, which lays out new regulations regarding medical (drug-induced) abortions, the abortion industry is up in arms. In an April 25, 2012 Huffington Post article, the pro-abortion organization IPAS’ Executive Vice President Ann Kumar claimed that the new Wisconsin law is simply another step by “anti-choice advocates” toward completely eradicating abortion. Kumar concludes with the overwrought bluster that the new law is “effectively turning them [doctors] into criminals for providing a lifesaving service to women.”


Perhaps in a bid to curry some unwarranted sympathy, Wisconsin’s Planned Parenthood immediately halted all distribution of abortion-inducing drugs (with the exception of the “morning-after” pill) under the claim that the new law is simply too vague as to what constitutes a violation. We will stay tuned to see if and when Planned Parenthood quietly decides to comply with the law rather than abstain from the more profitable practice of medical abortion.


The law, in fact, is rather simple, clear, and requires nothing more than an application of the existing standards of care for informed consent and physical examination before an induced abortion.  


It states that when a woman wishes to obtain a medical abortion, the physician who is responsible for prescribing her the abortion-inducing drugs is 1) required to meet with her outside of the presence of anyone who may have accompanied her to the clinic to make sure she has not been coerced into obtaining the abortion; 2) perform an examination before she receives the drug and be physically present when she is given the drug; and 3) inform her that she must return to the same clinic within 12-18 days following the procedure and meet with him (the same doctor who prescribed the drugs) for a follow-up examination.


If a doctor fails to abide by these regulations he may face up to a $10,000 fine or a maximum of 3 ½ years in prison.  (Note: A doctor is not penalized if a woman fails to return for her follow-up examination.)


Because the regulations effectively prohibit doctors from examining women via webcams and potentially removes “medical abortion as an option for women living in areas where there is no abortion provider,” Ms. Kumar claims pro-lifers have taken further steps to deny “American women the right to scientific progress and the right to control their own fertility.” As far as she is concerned, abortion coercion is not a serious enough issue to require patient-protective legislation, and medically induced abortions are not significant-enough decisions to require a physically present, follow-up examination by a medical doctor.

What Ms. Kumar fails to mention, however, is that approximately 64 percent of women who obtain abortions do so because they are being coerced into it by somebody besides themselves.  And even though various studies have shown drug-induced abortions to be medically safe, a 2010 study at Newcastle University in the U.K. found that 53 percent of women (in a 122-woman study) reported significant pain and vaginal bleeding, not to mention “’intrusive’ psychological symptoms ranging from unwanted thoughts to nightmares of killing their unborn child.” 


Yes, it was a small study. But with information obtained through studies such as this one, how can it be said that the new Wisconsin law is not a lifesaving provision for women? In Ms. Kumar’s world, we are left to wonder: Is it better to be sorry rather than safe, particularly where the abortion industry’s profits from medical abortion are concerned? 


Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, believes the new law is a tribute to Wisconsin’s aim to protect women, not hinder their access to medical services.


“Waging war on women? Are you kidding?” She stated in a March 2012 press release. “The majority party in the Assembly and the Senate has done no such thing this session. The truth is they have taken some great steps to protect women … This is about making sure women are protected at some of the most vulnerable times in their lives.”


Ms. Kumar may claim that the new Wisconsin law prohibits doctors from providing a “lifesaving service to women” but the truth is quite the opposite. To define elective medical abortion as “lifesaving” is not only ironic but also completely false.  Any elective procedure that kills a living, growing fetus is one that demands regulation and cannot conceivably fall into a category entitled “lifesaving.”


Wisconsin’s decision to regulate medical abortions is not a manipulative step toward criminalizing doctors who perform abortions, nor is it an undermining effort to prevent women from obtaining them; rather, as Julaine Appling succinctly stated, it is a step toward protecting women at a vulnerable time in their lives. 


A lifesaving service implies that all measures will be taken to ensure as much protection as possible for the person undergoing that service. Since the abortion industry has not yet challenged the law, every Wisconsin woman can be assured that she will be able to see a doctor and have a better opportunity of giving a more fully informed consent before deciding whether to continue with her pregnancy.