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US bishops update explainer on chemical abortions


Oleg Elkov - Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 02/11/24

The USCCB's Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities outlines the history and arguments against the use of chemical abortions in one comprehensive document.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities has updataed a comprehensive document answering frequently asked questions about chemical abortions, also referred to as “medication abortions.”

Titled, “Just the Facts: Q & A on Chemical Abortion,” the document explains the procedure, while outlining the USCCB’s stance against the practice. 

The explainer began by stating their objection to the term “medication abortion” as the word “medication” suggests that drugs are prescribed to treat an illness. As the first drug of the chemical abortion cocktail was designed specifically to “end a child’s life,” and pregnancy is not an “illness,” it deemed “chemical abortion” to be the more appropriate term

They then described the process to bring about chemical abortions, requiring the administering of two drugs: mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex) and misoprostol (original brand name Cytotec).

First mifepristone is taken to block progesterone, a hormone essential to maintaining pregnancy, which cuts off the child’s oxygen supply and triggers a breakdown of the uterine lining. Misoprostol is then taken one to two days later to “induce uterine contractions strong enough to expel the dead child and placenta.”

When a mom changes her mind

The Q and A noted that there does exist an Abortion Reversal Protocol (ARP) that involves administering high doses of progesterone to pregnant women who took mifepristone and regretted it. This only works if the misoprostol has not been taken and it does not guarantee that the pregnancy will be saved.

The USCCB reported a 66% success rate in saving babies’ lives through the ARP

The Secretariat notes that the use of abortion drugs comes at a high risk to the mother as well. It cited a study of 55,000 women who aborted through California’s Medicaid program, which found that the rate of complications in chemical abortions was nearly four-times higher than that of surgical abortion. It reads:

“Although the FDA stopped requiring reports of non-fatal adverse events in 2016, it reports a total of 4,213 adverse events, including 1,048 hospitalizations (excluding deaths), 604 cases of blood loss requiring transfusions, 97 ectopic pregnancies, and 414 infections (71 of them “severe”).”

Less regulation, less reporting

They then presented an extensive outline of the FDA’s actions that have introduced and expanded the availability of these drugs, while requiring less regulation on reporting adverse effects that were not fatal, over the last 20 years. These actions, or inactions, have culminated in a lawsuit brought against the FDA by the The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, to be heard by the US Supreme Court in March 2024

The secretariat wrote of the lawsuit: 

“For both sides, the stakes are especially high since the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Many states have responded by enacting laws against abortion, which could be explicitly overturned or rendered ineffectual by a federal mandate to allow delivery of abortion drugs through the U.S. postal service. This case will help determine whether abortion is promoted throughout the country as a routine form of ‘medication.’”

Read the full report, “Just the Facts: Q & A on Chemical Abortion,” at the USCCB.

This article has been updated to reflect that the “Just the Facts: Q & A on Chemical Abortion,” was an update and not a newly released document.

AbortionHealth and WellnessLawUnited States
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