Our very own Alison McCulloch has a fantastic post up over at Werewolf about how “a hostile law, and stretched services, are pushing women onto the Internet for abortion care”.
So women in NZ have resorted to seeking medication that can be used to induce abortions from overseas because they haven’t been able to easily access abortion here. But hey, our abortion laws are just fine and dandy as they are. We have abortion on demand. We should stop agitating in case a backlash results in tougher restrictions. Abortion’s just not an important issue these days. Uh huh. Sure.
What does the author have to say in reply to this?
Thank you for the question Lily, and others who pointed me to the same article you link to. Below is an excellent non-biased look at the safety of abortion medication, which also compares it to the safety of some other common medications as well as to pregnancy:
Here are the quickfacts:
Product Associated Deaths
Pregnancy Related 13/100,000 live births
Viagra 5/100,000 prescriptions
Mifepristone 1/100,000 prescriptions
These are U.S. figures. Thankfully, there have yet been no known deaths of women in New Zealand from abortion medication. As you know, Australia recently reported its first death from abortion medication.
Our own Medsafe has a publicly available information sheet on this medication, as it does for all medications, which is very thorough and easily available as a downloadable pdf. You can search here:
(Per above quickfacts, I couldn’t help looking at the Viagra sheet, 14 pages long and pretty scary; the mifepristone sheet is 6 pages long and, I’m sure you’ll agree, very detailed, though I don’t think it’s as up to date as it should be.)
NZ’s maternal mortality rate in 2009 was 22 deaths of women per 100,000 maternities. I don’t have comparable figures for New Zealand deaths from medications such as Viagra (or its equivalents), or over the counter pain medications (and nor do the Medsafe data sheets).
The anonymous author of the article you pointed to suggests that women don’t need to know about relative or comparable risks, stating the risk of abortion has nothing to do with risks of other drugs or procedures. I believe a big part of being fully informed and hence able to make an informed decision includes being fully informed about
alternatives (for example, the risk of continuing a pregnancy, see above) as well as about comparative risks with other medications and procedures. Decision-making in all areas of life involves just these sorts of assessments – indeed, it’s precisely how we make decisions, by weighing various options and comparing the risk of an action with other known risks.
I read the “Right to Know” material with interest, and while the content appears to have been selected to discourage women from considering abortion, I was nevertheless pleased to see the campaign expressing support for choice with its statements that women “have the right to full and frank information, so that they can be empowered to make a free and fully informed choice” and that they “should be trusted with all of the available facts, and then allowed the freedom and space to make a properly informed decision.” Yes, we should trust women to make their own choices from among all options, and I think that notion came through strongly in my article.
Lol the PLNZ blog has published a reply to Alison’s reply: