Acknowledged: This method of abortion, RU-486, marketed in Canada under the brand name Mifegymiso, has downsides. It poses dangerous health risks to women and makes abortion more difficult to protest due to the decentralization of the pill’s consumption and the age and size of the embryo it kills.
Abortion proponents are thrilled with Mifegymiso because of its potential to increase access to abortion, and for the same reason, pro-lifers are understandably fearful. Consider, however, how it increases access. It cuts out the middleman or at least minimizes his/her role, and puts abortion quite literally in the hands of the women seeking it, which might turn out to be a good thing.
Here’s the principle I’m operating off of: Generally speaking, people don’t want to kill people. Soldiers have to be trained to do so, and many suffer post-traumatic stress disorder afterwards. The abortion industry itself is reportedly experiencing difficulty recruiting medical students to conduct abortions (another reason for the shift to abortion pills). Far more physicians support euthanasia than actually want to carry it out. We might approve of killing in certain circumstances in theory, but the practice of it is something else entirely.
Until 2017, a relatively small pool of doctors and abortionists had been committing all of Canada’s abortions, numbing their consciences with each heart they stop. With the transition to chemical abortion, there exists the potential for up to 100,000 women in Canada to have to do their own dirty work. Will this change merely produce a larger group of hardened killers? I have to hope not; that instead, it might finally awaken our country to the ugly truth of abortion.
From the many testimonies I have read, the process of carrying out a chemical abortion seems long, intimate, and often distressing. Women describe lying on their beds or sitting on the toilet cramping, bleeding heavily, and passing clots, some nauseous and unable to focus on anything else. A Nova Scotian woman interviewed by Global News said, “They told me to have maxi pads and expect a lot of blood. But it was excruciating.” She admitted, “I was alone and started to throw up and I had to keep swallowing it… I was curled up, my whole body was shaking for four hours.” Many even see the pregnancy sac or embryo when they expel it into the toilet. One British woman featured in Cosmopolitan said of that encounter: “I sat and looked at it on the (toilet paper) for a minute or so, just sort of to get closure, then it was gone.”
Contrast this experience with a clinical one, an abortion that happens efficiently behind closed doors with the concealment of the fetus, and, critically, the direct involvement of a medical professional. It’s quite easy to hand off difficult decisions to someone else, especially authorities we were raised to admire. Laura Lewis, a family physician and executive director of the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services, who has referred women for abortions, says that after the father of the baby, it is the medical professional who has the most influence over a woman considering abortion. If a doctor is willing to conduct an abortion on a woman, she can convince herself of the necessity of it, and emotionally distance herself from what it actually entails. This, I imagine, is much harder to do when she’s self-aborting, when she comes face-to-face with the grim reality of what she’s doing.
If we hold that many women getting abortions feel coerced and that they have no choice, then we must also believe that when the immediate sense of crisis wanes, perhaps when they receive the drug, or when they consume the first of the two pills, they might change their minds. Here’s where a secondary advantage of the abortion drug lies: there’s a window of time during which the effects of the first pill, mifepristone, can be reversed. The abortion pill reversal process, which provides the woman with extra progesterone, offers a 55 to 70 per cent chance of saving the baby’s life.
And even if the woman doesn’t change her mind or if it’s too late to save her baby, perhaps her experience will discourage her from having another abortion, or will prompt her to dissuade a pregnant friend or family member from choosing abortion.
Regardless of whether the abortion pill will prove to be net positive or net negative for the pro-life movement, we must recognize and capitalize on the advantages it offers over surgical abortions. The abortion industry in Canada is adapting, and so too oughtthe pro-life movement.