AMA Says Childbirth is Far More Lethal for Women Than Abortion Pill As Judge Weighs Mifepristone Ban

By Azeezat Okunlola | Feb 18, 2023

American Medical Association attorneys said restricting access to mifepristone, the abortion pill, "would impose a severe, almost unimaginable cost on pregnant people throughout the United States."


It has been suggested that any attempt by a court to restrict access to mifepristone would be "extraordinary and unprecedented," considering the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in 2000. After Roe vs. Wade was overturned, it became part of a two-drug approach for non-surgical, pharmaceutical abortions in states that did not ban abortion choices.


However, a group of anti-abortion doctors calling themselves the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine filed a lawsuit last year asking a federal judge in Texas to ban mifepristone nationwide on the grounds that it poses serious health risks. This judge was appointed by former President Donald Trump and was sought out by conservative plaintiffs due to his perceived willingness to aid right-wing causes.


This week, lawyers for the group and a number of other mainstream medical organisations (including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians) filed a brief in which they accused anti-abortion activists of making false claims in order to advance a policy goal that would be detrimental to both the healthcare system and individuals seeking abortions.


"Childbirth is far more dangerous for women than the abortion pill," American Medical Association tells the Texas judge weighing mifepristone ban.


"Medication abortion including mifepristone is safe and effective. This is not an opinion — it is a fact based on hundreds of medical studies and vast amounts of data amassed over the course of two decades," the brief states.


"Reversing the FDA's approval of mifepristone, in whole or in any part, would cause profound and irreparable harm to patients across the country."


Mifepristone "has a safety profile comparable to ibuprofen," with a risk of death "near zero," according to the attorneys for the medical groups, who also point out that the drug is used to treat patients who have suffered a miscarriage. The attorneys point out that Viagra is far more harmful than childbirth, with an estimated 4.9 deaths for every 100,000 prescriptions written.


Fears that the medication, which temporarily suppresses progesterone receptors in the uterus, could have long-lasting effects on teenage girls were mentioned by anti-abortion campaigners in their complaint. They also noted cases of post-abortion depression and anxiety.


Medical organisations, however, point out that progesterone levels in pregnant teenagers are significantly higher than those in their non-pregnant peers. Adolescent growth would not be affected by blocking progesterone absorption for a short period of time, according to the brief.


One study found that 95% of women who terminate a pregnancy felt it was the "right decision," adding to the evidence that individuals who have access to abortions tend to have better mental health than those who do not.


Last week, a coalition of Democratic attorneys general filed their own brief warning of a "historic rise" in maternal death should mifepristone be banned. Attorneys general from the Republican party have also filed a brief, alleging that the drug's availability violates the states' constitutionally protected right to restrict abortion.


The deadline for filing arguments with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, presided over by Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, is February 24. Afterward, a decision should be made.