My article in today’s Headline Bistro
In a recent New York Times editorial, Nicholas Kristof writes fawningly over the increasing use of the anti-ulcer prostaglandin drug misoprostol – both in combination with the abortifacient RU-486, and increasingly on its own – as the new wonder pill that is revolutionizing obstetrics.
Yet Kristof’s piece entirely glosses over the dangers inherent in the use of these drugs singularly, and in combination. As usual for pro-abortion apologists, the truth matters less than the agenda.
The two drugs have very different functions. RU-486 is the drug used to actually kill the baby. Misoprostol has a side effect of stimulating powerful uterine contractions and is used off-label for that purpose 48 hours after administration of RU-486 in order to facilitate the expulsion of the dead child. In nations that outlaw abortion, misoprostol is being increasingly used as the sole abortifacient. The efficacy of this drug when used by itself has been shown to be as low as 30%, requiring surgical abortion to complete the destruction of the child. When used in conjunction with RU-486, the efficacy rises to 90-96%, as opposed to 80-85% when RU-486 is used alone.
In nations that outlaw abortion, babies who survive the attempt with misoprostol (again, widely available for its intended use as an anti-ulcer medication) have been shown to suffer from a variety of birth defects, which include limb defect, meningocoele, meningomyelocele, anencephaly, encephalocoele, and facial paralysis. Kristof’s rosy analysis glosses over these well-established defects noted in the literature dating back to 1998 with two articles. The first appeared in the prestigious British journal, The Lancet (May 30, 1998 issue), and the next followed in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), on June 25, 1998.
The reported incidence of birth defects for misoprostol is 1%, a percentage widely touted by the abortion lobby, but these numbers are in all likelihood very low. The only nations where misoprostol is used alone are those that outlaw abortion. There is powerful incentive for women with deformed babies to refrain from reporting their attempted abortion.
So is Kristof simply misinformed, or is he spinning the issue? A simple Google search turns up several scientific articles, such as the above-mentioned, which tell the truth. These are the most reputable journals in science and medicine. At the close of the NEJM article the authors conclude, “Administration of misoprostol during pregnancy should be strongly discouraged, given the drug’s low efficacy and its likelihood of causing fetal malformation.”
How could Kristof have missed the word “likelihood”?
Even if the drug produced malformation 1% of the time, considering the pressure for abortion in third world countries, that implies a staggering number of affected children each year. For every million women with failed misoprostol abortions annually, that would mean 10,000 deformed babies.
These are numbers that exceed by far the total number of deformed babies worldwide in the late 1950s to the early 1960s in mothers who took thalidomide. The total number of “thalidomide babies” is estimated to be between 10,000 to 20,000. Were this any other drug having this effect, in these numbers, the FDA would bury it. So why is misoprostol not being taken off the market as was thalidomide?
First, misoprostol’s use as an abortion drug is an off-label use. It is not the purpose for which the drug is intended. Second, thalidomide was taken as an antiemetic to aid mothers with morning sickness. It interfered with the development of “wanted” babies. Third, the deformed babies born to women who attempt abortion lack full standing in the popular consensus. These are the unwanted, the end-products of a choice that was biologically thwarted. These children represent an ethical stumbling block.
Kristof boxes himself in through the perverted logic of abortion. How does one simultaneously support abortion and show care and concern for the effects of abortifacients on the child marked for death? The developmental anomalies are induced during that first trimester window when the child has no standing with pro-abortion apologists as a person. The only answer is to ignore the pharmacologic reality and spin like mad. When cornered on the birth defects, the solution will be to argue for “safe, legal abortions.” However, the science continues to demonstrate that “legal” only changes juridical reality, but not biological reality. Abortions will never be safe for women.
In two weeks, we celebrate the 100th birthday of Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, one of the most courageous and consistent advocates of the unborn. We have in her a powerful advocate before God. As we approach the centennial of her birth, it is a good time to reflect on her life, her grit and determination, and to draw renewed strength from her unyielding example. She and Pope John Paul the Great were my inspirations during the long days and nights in the lab during graduate school and were the beacons of light that showed me the way forward in utilizing the gifts and education God entrusted to me.
Each of us can refute the Kristofs of the world. The scientific evidence is there in abundance. We simply need to heed the fatherly advice of John Paul – “be not afraid” – and Mother’s exhortation to “do little things with great love.”
Collectively, we shall prevail.