Okay, so a couple of weeks back I took Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) spokesperson Alison McCulloch to task over a dangerously misleading article she wrote about the abortion drug Mifegyne (also known as RU 486 and mifepristone).
You’ll remember that McCulloch’s advocacy piece completely failed to inform its readers of the serious risks associated with Mifegyne, and instead opted to paint a rosy picture of this abortion drug that is completely out of touch with it’s actual reality.
Well, since I published my little blog post – you know, the one where I pointed out all the dangers and complications associated with Mifegyne that McCulloch chose to completely overlook in her article – McCulloch has publicly responded to my post.
However, after reading her latest comments on the Mifegyne safety issue I am tempted to ask: ‘what colour is the sky on planet ALRANZ?’
You see, in response to my article which pointed out several major safety issues associated with Mifegyne, and which make it a far riskier proposition than other forms of abortion, McCulloch responded by employing the often used, and completely illogical tactic of comparing Mifegyne to other completely unrelated pharmaceutical products like Tylenol and Viagra.
Are there people out there who are so lacking in intelligence that they actually buy this nonsense?
What the hell has the Viagra death rate got to do with the Mifegyne death rate anyway – is she suggesting that women in crisis-pregnancy situations might be considering consuming male erectile dysfunction medication as one of their possible options?!
Comparing the death rates associated with two completely unrelated products, and then suggesting that because one of the products causes less deaths than the other it should be considered safe is like saying ‘detaching a person’s head from their body has a far higher death rate than ingesting household cleaning products does, so therefore ingesting household cleaning products is obviously a safe thing to do’.
Just because option A is more likely to result in death than option B is, this doesn’t then make option B safe – it just makes it less likely to kill you than option A.
But when the scenario being discussed is ‘choices open to a woman when facing a crisis-pregnancy’, and the option A you are proposing, as a comparison to the option B of Mifegyne, is Viagra (the very example used by McCulloch), then now you’re just starting to look a little bit like you’re not living on the same planet as the rest of us.
Like I said earlier, why exactly would a pregnant woman be considering the safety of male erectile dysfunction medication over the safety of an abortion drug?
But McCulloch doesn’t just stop at making illogical comparisons between abortion drugs and male performance enhancing pills, she also directs readers to this US website page. McCulloch states that it is “an excellent non-biased look at the safety of abortion medication”
The page she links to is from the website of an organisation that was started (according to it’s About page) “as the education arm of Planned Parenthood” – for those who aren’t aware, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions for profit in the USA.
Yep, that’s right, this supposedly unbiased information comes from a group that was founded by an organisation that makes millions and millions of dollars in profit every year by carrying out abortions – vested interest MUCH?
A quick look over this website that McCulloch has linked to shows just how woefully inadequate the information it provides actually is – not to mention the fact that many vitally important safety facts about Mifegyne are completely missing from this website – you know, the same website that McCulloch calls an “excellent” source of information about Mifegyne.
For starters, at the very top of the page it states that the information hasn’t been updated since 2008 – that’s four years ago, and since that time there have been more deaths associated with Mifegyne, as well as new research (like the stuff I linked to in my blog post a couple of weeks ago) showing that Mifegyne carries greater risk for women than other forms of abortion do.
Secondly, much of the website page is dedicated to repeating the same logical error that McCulloch starts with by comparing totally unrelated pharmaceutical products to each other.
As pointed out above, such comparisons are not only largely pointless, but they are also dangerously misleading as they are likely to deceive vulnerable people, or those without access to more reliable sources of information into thinking that Mifegyne is completely safe to use, when in actual fact that is not at all what such comparisons show.
Just consider the other following ways that this website is misleading in its presentation of these pharmaceutical product comparisons…
- It talks about Viagra deaths, but doesn’t tell its readers that erectile dysfunction is often caused by cardiovascular disease and diabetes (where obesity is also likely to be an issue). Why is this important? Well, forcing the cardiovascular system, via the use of Viagra, to do something that it is unable to do because of impairment, or lack of fitness, without first addressing the underlying physiological issues causing the impairment, is obviously far more likely to result in negative outcomes.
- It fails to clarify whether the Viagra deaths it refers to are due to misuse, underlying medical causes, or whether they are simply associated with Viagra use (i.e. cardiac arrest in older, or overweight men whose hearts are not up to the rigors of physical sexual activity).
- It quotes statistics about aspirin “poisoning” – which is a misuse, not a regular use, of that product – but it’s hard to see how death or harm caused by the MISUSE of a product can legitimately be compared to death or harm caused by the REGULAR USE of another product (Mifegyne).
And then there is the section of this webpage which has the temerity to compare maternal mortality rates, and other pregnancy related risk factors to the risks associated with using Mifegyne.
Consider the following quote (emphasis added):
“Pregnancy-related deaths, including those at delivery, stillbirth, and ectopic pregnancy, claim the lives of two to three US women every day—with 13 deaths reported for every 100,000 live births in 1999…”
Yep, they just compared stillbirth to abortion. Does anyone else see the twisted irony in telling women that if they don’t have a medical abortion they will be exposing themselves to a far greater risk of giving birth to a dead baby?
They also mention ectopic pregnancy, but no mention of the fact that a study which analyzed a large sample of women in France concluded that there is “a significant association between induced abortion and subsequent ectopic pregnancy” (Tharaux-Deneux C et al., Risk of ectopic pregnancy and previous induced abortion, American Journal of Public Health, 1998, 88(3):401-05).
But more problematic than this is the fact that they use these maternal mortality statistics to try and justify the safety of abortion. Such suggestions become laughable when you consider the fact that research is very clear that countries with the tightest restrictions on abortion have far lower maternal mortality rates than those with easy and less restricted access to abortion.
Ireland, for example, is a country where abortion is outlawed, and it has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, whereas the US, which has very little in the way of restrictions has a far higher rate of maternal mortality per 100,000 live births than Ireland does (NOTE: the maternal mortality figures in these links are found under the section labeled ‘Women’, about halfway down the page of these official UNICEF statistics sheets).
Now before you go trying to invoke the old pro-abortion chestnut of claiming that ‘Irish women just travel to England to get their abortions’, you need to actually check out the official UK abortion figures, because since 2001 there has been a 34% DECREASE in the number of Irish women traveling to England to have abortions.
At the end of the day, ALRANZ still haven’t actually answered the FACTS which undermine their claims about the safety of Mifegyne, instead they continue to ignore the evidence and blindly repeat the same mantras about Mifegyne over and over again.
This means that ALRANZ is either ignorant of the facts about Mifegyne, or they are being disingenuous and are deliberately keeping mum about these facts in an attempt to further their ideological aims – either way, this once again reinforces the accuracy and importance of events like the recent Right to Know campaign, which argued that women should be presented with ALL of the facts about abortion and its risk factors.