Dangerous chemical abortions in Alaska performed later in pregnancy

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Abortions reported in Alaska dropped last year, but increasingly, abortion practitioners are performing chemical abortions later in pregnancy – killing later-term unborn babies and exposing mothers to greater risks of complications that result in surgery.

According to the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, in 2016, 1,260 abortions were performed in Alaska, a five-percent drop from 2015 and the fewest since 2003 when Alaska began recording data.

At the same time, chemical abortions were performed on unborn babies up to four months gestation – well beyond the point the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers safe for women. There were 329 chemical abortions, including 40 between 9 and 12 weeks, two between 13 and 16 weeks – or four months – and one at a gestational age “not stated.”


Chemical abortions involve the mother’s ingestion of a high-powered mix of synthetic hormones which cause the unborn baby’s nourishing placenta to detach from the uterine wall. These abortions often employ mifepristone (RU-486), in combination with other drugs.

Chemical abortions typically require at least three trips to the abortion facility. After the first round of drugs is administered in the clinic, up to 30 percent of women abort later at home or work, and as many as five days later.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, once the research arm of the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood, there were 272,400 chemical abortions performed in the U.S. in 2014, about 29.4 percent of the total – an increase of 13.8 percent in three years. According to Alaska’s report, in 2016 chemical abortions were 26.5 percent of the state’s total.

There are serious and well-documented medical side effects of chemical abortions, including severe bleeding and lethal systemic infection (sepsis). In fact, since RU-486 came on the market in the U.S. in 2000, maternal deaths from legal abortion have reached over 100.


The dangers of chemical abortions increase with the age of the unborn baby. The federal Food and Drug Administration’s drug protocols limited the use of RU-486 to the first seven weeks of pregnancy because of increased risk of failure if used later. Resulting “incomplete abortions” means aborting women end up in surgical abortions sometimes weeks after.

Nevertheless, in 2016, the Obama Administration issued new RU-486 protocols for use up to 10 weeks or two-and-a-half months.

Last year’s chemical abortions in Alaska were done on unborn babies up to 16 weeks or four months.

In fact, every year since 2003, when Alaska began recording data, abortion practitioners in the state have reported using RU-486 beyond the FDA’s original seven-week limit and even beyond the new 10-week limit.

From 2003 through 2015 — while FDA’s seven-week protocol was in place — Alaska abortionists performed an average of 12 RU-486 abortions annually on unborn babies between nine and 12 weeks (This does not include those performed in 2004 since abortion method data for that year was not included in the Bureau’s annual reports). In 2016, chemical abortions on babies in that age range hit 40.

These do not include those abortions in which abortionists fail to state the baby’s age — a regular occurrence. In 2013 alone, abortionists reported 32 RU-486 abortions without identifying the baby’s age.

In 2005, 2014 and 2016, abortionists performed four chemical abortions on unborn babies ages 13 to 16 weeks.

It is not clear how many women suffered complications in these RU-486 abortions. Alaska does not require abortion practitioners who administer chemical abortion drugs to report complications. In the State of Ohio, where abortion providers are required to do so, RU-486 complications in three reporting counties more than doubled after the FDA relaxed its protocols.

Despite the dangers, Planned Parenthood continues to expand use of RU-486, calling it “a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy.” And abortion practitioners are pushing to allow chemical abortion drugs be administered directly by pharmacies or ordered online, doing away with appointments with a doctor.


By the time RU-486 abortions are performed, an unborn baby has reached significant milestones in her life.

At fertilization on day one, the embryonic baby is an individual distinct from her mother. By 22 days the unborn baby’s heart begins to beat, often with a blood type different from her mother’s.

At five weeks of pregnancy, the unborn baby’s nervous system is forming.

By the seventh week of pregnancy — the original FDA limit for RU-486 — the unborn child has a face, arms and legs. She kicks and swims.

At the eighth week, every organ is in place, fingerprints form, and the baby starts to hear.

In the 10th week — the FDA’s new RU-486 limit — the baby can turn her head, frown and hiccup.

By the 12th week, the baby — with nerves and a spinal cord — can experience pain. And the baby can suck her thumb.

By 16 weeks – or four months – the baby’s heart is pumping 25 quarts of blood a day. By the end of the fourth month, the baby is 8-10 inches tall and weighs up to a half-pound.


Alaska’s abortion statistics are based on forms submitted from across Alaska by abortion practitioners who are required by law to report the procedures. Compared to many states, Alaska’s abortion reporting requirements are considered lax. Abortion practitioners may refuse to disclose data such as the methods they used and the ages of the babies they aborted. If a baby’s age is disclosed, it need only be the abortionist’s estimate.

“This report uses the physician’s estimate of gestational age,” states the Bureau’s report. But it is not clear on what basis reporting abortionists make their estimates. Relying only on an estimate of the baby’s age, the abortion practitioner may not provide a woman sufficient information to make a fully informed decision and could imperil her health.

Moreover, Alaska abortionists are not required by state law to perform an ultrasound before an abortion, the gold standard tool to date and locate a pregnancy. Chemical abortion is contraindicated in the case of ectopic or tubal pregnancy. But without an ultrasound, a tubal pregnancy is easy to miss. Ingesting RU-486 could result in a ruptured fallopian tube, a deadly prospect for child and mother.

Abortion practitioners risk little if they don’t fully report or even if they furnish false information to the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics: a misdemeanor and, if convicted, a fine of not more than $100.


In 2016, 556 (44.1 percent) of all Alaska abortions were paid for through state Medicaid funds. That compares to 438 abortions (33 percent) in 2015.

'Dangerous chemical abortions in Alaska performed later in pregnancy'
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