The day after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling Dr. Christina Francis’s phone blew up with text messages while she was doing rounds.
She thought it was people rejoicing over the fall of Roe, but friends, family and colleagues were all wondering whether what they were hearing was true - Would physicians now be unable to treat things like ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages in states that had banned abortions? Was it true that women would die now because they couldn't receive life-saving medical care?
“I mean over and over and over all day long I was getting these text messages and was so frustrated by the amount of misinformation that was making the rounds,” Francis said.
The next morning, she sat in her car and recorded a video for social media responding to the abortion propaganda misinformation.
“I calmly explained that saying that treating an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage is the same as an abortion was not only a lie,” said Francis, “but it was also harmful because it might prevent women from seeking care for these conditions.”
“I also explained that having worked most of my career in hospitals that did not do abortions, I had never been prevented from treating these conditions,” she said. “Now, not surprisingly, it quickly was labeled as partially false by fact checkers. And it’s actually still labeled partially false, though nothing I said in the video was inaccurate.”
Francis, an MD, CEO-Elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists (AAPLOG), and a provider with the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN), was addressing the Students for Life of America (SFLA) 2023 National Pro-Life Summit. Her presentation was “Debunking the Myths of Chemical Abortion.”
“The abortion industry and unfortunately its allies in the medical profession have used these lies to strike fear in the hearts of women that we will no longer be able to give them excellent and life-saving healthcare,” Francis said. “However, any physician who is being honest knows that treating ectopic pregnancy, which is where the embryo has implanted outside of the uterine cavity, is not the same thing as performing an abortion, which has the sole intent right of ending the life of that embryo.”
Tweet This: The abortion industry and its allies in the medical profession have used lies about chemical abortion to strike fear in the hearts of women
“Even Planned Parenthood acknowledged this on their website until they recently changed it because it was a little bit of an inconvenient truth for them,” said Francis. “And of course, treating a miscarriage where the pre-born child has already passed away is in no way equivalent to violently and intentionally ending the life of that child through an abortion.”
“The number of lies surrounding these kinds of abortions that are being told to the public and women in particular is astounding to me,” Francis told the crowd in attendance. “Women deserve to have accurate information no matter what choice they're going to make. They should at least be getting accurate information about what is really going on.”
She detailed the specifics of how chemical abortion works, and clarified that it differs from Plan B, which is marketed as an emergency contraceptive.
Chemical abortions involve two different drugs, the first, mifepristone, which blocks the action of progesterone, the key hormone in early pregnancy that helps support the baby. When it blocks the action of progesterone, it cuts off the flow of essential nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby, Francis explained, which typically then leads to the baby’s death.
Then the second drug, Misoprostol, is taken one to two days later, and that makes the mom’s uterus contract, inducing labor and expelling the baby and the rest of the pregnancy tissue. These drugs are currently approved for use in the U.S. up through 10 weeks of pregnancy.
The first myth Francis addressed is that chemical abortion drugs are safe for women.
“Of course, they are never safe for the pre-born child who loses his or her life,” said Francis. “But women are being told that these drugs are just as safe as taking a Tylenol. It's no big deal.”
“However, multiple studies show that this is not the case,” she said. “In fact, the complication rate for chemical abortions are four times higher than the complication rate for surgical abortions.”
Francis said that many people might think a surgery would be much more complicated, but in fact, these drugs cause complications.
“Far more often, approximately one in five women will experience a significant complication,” she said.
“So, let's think about what that means,” said Francis. “Currently in the U.S. just over 50% of abortions are done via these drugs. So that means according to the abortion numbers in 2020 that just over 100,000 women in the U.S. alone experienced a complication from chemical abortion.”
Francis explained how some of the minor side effects can include cramping, nausea, and vomiting. However, a significant number of women will experience severe complications that require immediate medical attention. These complications include extremely heavy bleeding, severe infection, and retained tissue.
“All of these can lead to the need for emergency surgery, so that her uterus can be completely emptied,” she said.
“Lest anyone think that these complications are merely statistics, I and other physicians that I work with are seeing these on a regular basis in our hospitals,” said Francis. “Right now, we have cared for women who've required emergency D&Cs, IV antibiotics, blood transfusions, hospitalizations for several days due to these complications.”
“I don't know about you, but to me that doesn't sound like a very safe drug,” she added.
The second myth Francis spoke about is that it's safe for women to be given these drugs without an in-person visit with a physician.
“This is the new frontier for the abortion industry,” she said.
Medical malpractice for the health of women
Beginning in 2020 there was a significant push including by some major medical organizations to get the FDA to remove the requirement for women to be seen in person to start the chemical abortion process, she said. This was made permanent in December of 2021 and then in what she called “an even more negligent move,” the FDA just this month stated that these drugs could now be dispensed in pharmacies without a visit with a physician first, “turning your local pharmacy into an abortion mill.”
“So not only does this mean that more pre-born lives will be lost,” Francis told those summit audience. “I think it also constitutes medical malpractice for the health of women.”
Without an in-person visit, women cannot be adequately screened for things like ectopic pregnancy, Francis said, then noting an exercise in irony on the part of the abortion industry.
“Remember we heard them yelling that ectopic pregnancy is dangerous, it has to be treated - That's why abortion has to stay legal,” she said. “Now, they don't even want women to be screened for ectopic pregnancy.”
Francis said ectopic pregnancy occurs in one in 50 pregnancies.
“So, these are not rare,” she said, “and they cause very similar symptoms to a chemical abortion, pain and bleeding.”
“Let me be perfectly clear,” Francis stated. “No physician can rule out an ectopic pregnancy simply by talking to a patient. They must see her. They must do an exam; they must do an ultrasound. This cannot be done over the phone. It cannot be done over the computer. The delay in diagnosis and the time lost as a woman stays at home thinking her symptoms are just because of the pills she took could easily be the difference between life and death for her.”
Another reason an in-person visit is important is to be sure a woman is in fact 10 weeks or less along in her pregnancy. If she's wrong about her dates, the risk of her needing emergency surgery increases dramatically.
At 10 weeks, it's 8%, Francis said. Three weeks later at 13 weeks, it's 30%.
“This is crucial information that women are not being told,” she said.
Francis noted that women who are abused or trafficked are forced into abortions when they become pregnant, and that for many of them, their only point of contact for help is a medical facility. Therefore, by removing the physician or the clinic completely, they have no chance of reaching out for help.
“Chemical abortions don't help these women said Francis. “They enable their abusers and women, and their children deserve better than this.”
The final myth Francis addressed is that chemical abortions are somehow easier because they can be done in the privacy of a woman's own home.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said. “They not only change her home or her dorm room from a place of safety to an abortion facility, but they also cause many women to see something they weren't prepared to see - their baby, small, yet fully formed and fully human.”
“That mental trauma can last for years and increases her risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide,” said Francis.
She concluded with a ray of hope - abortion pill reversal.
“We now have the ability to try to save pre-born children from dying from these drugs if their mother changes her mind after taking the first pill through something called abortion pill reversal or APR,” said Francis, explaining that this involved prescribing progesterone, the hormone, the abortion drugs are meant to block.
“We can save her baby nearly 70% of the time,” she said.
APR providers know that abortion regret is common, said Francis, and every day the Abortion Pill Rescue Network receives calls from women who desire to save their babies.
“In fact, just this past week, I started a woman on progesterone after she regretted her abortion,” Francis said. “And I'm happy to report that today her baby is alive and well and she is so thankful.”
Statistics show that to date, 4,000 lives and counting have been saved by APR.
“So, though we are fighting a lot of misinformation and confusion, the great news is that we have truth, and we have medical science on our side,” Francis concluded. “Our job then is to be well informed so that we can speak the truth in love and compassion to our friends.”
“Women and girls deserve to know that it is a lie that ‘abortion is healthcare,’ and that chemical abortions are not a safe and easy option,” she said. “They deserve our love, our support, and they deserve to know that they have the strength to choose life.”
Tweet This: “Women and girls deserve our love, our support, and they deserve to know that they have the strength to choose life.”
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network (APRN) and Pregnancy Help News.