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Why Does an FDA Page About Abortion Pills Cite Murders and Overdoses as ‘Associated With’ the Drugs?

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In an FAQ page about abortion pills—namely mifepristone, brand-named Mifeprex—the Food and Drug Administration is now including the number of deaths reported to the agency after people took the pills. The only problem is that there’s no evidence the 24 deaths were caused by either Mifeprex or misoprostol, the two drugs that are used together to induce abortions in pregnancies that are 10 weeks along or less. The “24” figure has been touted by at least one anti-abortion legal advocacy group, but mainstream gynecologists say it’s not a number they’d report to their patients when talking about the risks of medical abortion, because it doesn’t convey just how unlikely it is for the pills to cause serious injury and death.

“It does not make sense to present the information like that,” Daniel Grossman, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, a research institute at the University of California­–San Francisco, writes in an email.

The FDA’s Office of Media Affairs referred Pacific Standard to the FAQ, as well as a few other pages, in response to requests for comment on the movement to get it to relax its rules around mifepristone. The way the United States regulates mifepristone—allowing only certified hospitals and doctors to dispense the pills—is out of step with international guidelines, unnecessarily limiting Americans’ access to medical abortions, advocates argue.

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