More Medication Abortions Than Surgical Abortions?

By Jim Sedlak

Planned Parenthood has always been at the forefront of killing babies through medication abortions (also known as abortion pill abortions). Because this type of abortion (which can now be used up to 10 weeks gestation) does not involve any surgical procedures, it can easily be added to existing Planned Parenthood centers without much red tape or expense. In fact, STOPP’s research shows that Planned Parenthood added this killing method to 25 of its centers across the country in 2015 alone. At the end of 2015, Planned Parenthood operated 189 medication only abortion centers and another 167 surgical abortion facilities (all but six also do medication abortions).

It does not come as a major surprise then that Reuters news service released a report this week that led with the sentence: “American women are ending pregnancies with medication almost as often as with surgery, marking a turning point for abortion in the United States.” The conclusions by Reuters were made after it analyzed 2014 abortion data in the United States. Reuters says it obtained previously unreported data from Planned Parenthood and was able to determine that medication abortions accounted for 35 percent of all abortions at Planned Parenthood in 2010 and that increased to 43 percent of PP’s abortions in 2014.

It should be noted that the combination of the huge increase in PP medication abortion facilities in 2015 and the Food and Drug Administration’s relaxation of regulations on medication abortions in 2016 has led to the point where medication abortions at PP may surpass 50 percent quickly.

To PP, medication abortion is simpler; it requires no special permits, no operating room, and no recovery room (including no one to staff these rooms). Obviously the cost to Planned Parenthood to do medication abortions is less than doing surgical abortions. So, what do women pay to have their child killed by each of these methods? Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania’s website lists these fees for a medication abortion: “Abortion pill: Individuals 4 to 10 weeks pregnant can use the abortion pill method. The cost for this process is $415.  You should bring an additional $18 to purchase codeine and additional money to buy ibuprofen, Benadryl, anti-nausea medicine and Imodium AD at the pharmacy.” That same affiliate lists the following cost for a surgical abortion: “Fee 4 -11.6 weeks from LMP: With Local Anesthetic: $415.” At Planned Parenthood in Richmond, Virginia, the costs are quoted as “abortion pill (medication abortion) – $415; in-clinic [surgical] abortion under 12 weeks – $360.” Finally, at the Our Bodies Ourselves website, the cost of abortions is quoted as follows: “For both types of abortion, the exact costs depend on location, the facility, and timing. Planned Parenthood estimates that in the United States a medication abortion costs between $300 to $800 and an aspiration abortion (in the first 12 weeks) between $300–$950.”

In other words, despite the overhead and administrative savings, Planned Parenthood charges the same, and sometimes more, for a medication abortion than it does for a surgical abortion. This, of course, leads us to the conclusion: “Planned Parenthood: Profit, no matter what.”

The changing face of abortion in America is part of a worldwide trend. Reuters reported that “in Western Europe, medication abortion is more common, accounting for 91 percent of pregnancy terminations in Finland, the highest rate, followed by Scotland at 80 percent.”

Although all current factors seem to support the move to medication abortions, the decisions made by mothers on how to end their child’s life are not always clear. Even in European countries there are many areas where women choose surgical abortion over medication abortion. Thus the pro-life movement must be prepared with information and offer needed assistance to mothers in every situation.

Jim Sedlak is executive director of American Life League and founder of STOPP International. He has been leading the fight against Planned Parenthood since 1985.