Microbiology and Abortion

ERV's picture

RU-486, or mifepristone, was approved for use in 2000 in the US, for medical abortions.

Shortly there after, something weird started happening. A handful of women who used RU-486 were dying from sepsis, caused by a really rare bacteria, Clostridium sordellii. Like, these women didnt have AIDS. They werent meth addicts or recovering from cancer. They were previously completely healthy 18, 22 year-old women dropping dead.

To pro-lifers, the message was clear: Abortion kills women.

Planned Parenthood's recommendation to use the abortion-causing drug Misoprostol vaginally rather than orally has led to fatal infections according to a research study released by the University of Michigan.
...
"This study shows Planned Parenthood not only disregards the lives of babies in the womb, but the lives of their mothers as well," said American Life League's Jim Sedlak. "This is scandalous, if not criminal. It's time people stopped viewing Planned Parenthood as a responsible healthcare organization and saw it for what it is -- a money-making, social engineering group that plies its trade of sex and abortion without regard to human life, born or preborn."

To rational people and scientists, there is a different puzzle afoot.

Planned Parenthood recommended vaginal application of RU-486 the same reason you put neosporin on a cut, instead of taking oral antibiotics-- Lower dose, you have the drug at the site you need it rather than systemic, dont need to worry about stomach/liver/whatever doing something weird to the drug before it gets where it needs to go-- theres nothing that should have been weird about PPs recommendations.

But there was.

Because in Europe, RU-486 was approved late 80s/early 90s. No one had died from Clostridium sordellii. And, the Europeans were also not recommending oral RU-486-- they were recommending women just hold the pill in their cheek, so the drug went straight to the bloodstream.

RU-486 via cheek-- everyones fine
RU-486 via vagina-- women die from Clostridium sordellii

This makes no sense.

It makes no sense, but its easy to fix. In 2006 PP changed their recommended protocol to Europes, plus sometimes also antibiotics. They just released a retrospective analysis of their procedures/outcomes before/since the change in protocol in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Rates of Serious Infection after Changes in Regimens for Medical Abortion-- Rates of serious infection dropped significantly after the joint change to buccal misoprostol from vaginal misoprostol and to either testing for sexually transmitted infection or routine provision of antibiotics as part of the medical abortion regimen. The rate declined 73%, from 0.93 per 1000 abortions to 0.25 per 1000 (absolute reduction, 0.67 per 1000; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.44 to 0.94; P<0.001). The subsequent change to routine provision of antibiotics led to a further significant reduction in the rate of serious infection -- a 76% decline, from 0.25 per 1000 abortions to 0.06 per 1000 (absolute reduction, 0.19 per 1000; 95% CI, 0.02 to 0.34; P=0.03).

 

So after they changed their protocols, 0.93 per 1000 turned into 0.06 per 1000.

But their protocol is asking for more trouble. Is it worth giving everyone drugs to prevent a very rare event, when giving everyone drugs could lead to antibiotic resistant Clostridium sordellii, thus perhaps more/harder to treat Clostridium sordellii infections??

DAMMIT.

To further complicate things, Clostridium sordellii isnt confined to women who get abortions. It also kills women who just give birth. No abortion. No RU-486. We had a visiting PI speak about Clostridium sordellii earlier this year-- he told an absolutely tragic story of a happy healthy woman who gave birth to a happy healthy baby. Everyone was released from the hospital. Happy happy happy!... A few weeks later mommy is back in the hospital with Clostridium sordellii. She fights it for a year... then drops dead from other complications.

And, women can die from Clostridium sordellii after spontaneous abortions.

DAMMIT.

We dont have good diagnostic tests (women who get sick have really general symptoms- nausea, cramps- no fever). We dont have great treatment protocols. We dont even have a good scientific explanation for how Clostridium sordellii is causing all of this trouble in the first place.

None of these problems are solved when pro-lifers proclaim Planned Parenthood is killing women.

None.


 

Crossposted from ERV

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