Holly Patterson had just celebrated her 18th birthday. The bright, energetic young woman who had just completed high school one year ahead of schedule had so much to live for.  After finding out she was pregnant, Holly and her boyfriend went to a local Planned Parenthood clinic where Holly was given abortion medication.  Over the next several days, Holly found herself in agony. With only pain pills and an anti-nausea drug to abate the symptoms of a growing and deadly infection, her health began to deteriorate. Weak,nauseated, and vomiting her medications, she was rushed to a local ER where she would hours later succumb to an immense reproductive tract infection – twenty minutes before her scheduled follow-up appointment with Planned Parenthood. So much that could have been was lost. Were it not for the hollow promise of a “safe” medication abortion, Holly would still be here today.

Brenda Vise was a 38-year-old, experienced pharmaceutical representative, knowledgeable in side effects and managing risks to medications.  Brenda traveled to an abortion clinic after testing positive for pregnancy, but a clinic ultrasound failed to confirm the pregnancy and she was told the baby had not reached a size viewable on an ultrasound.  She was then given the typical abortion medication regimen and sent home from the clinic.  It wasn’t long before Brenda began to experience excessive bleeding and severe pain. Her symptoms prompted her to phone the abortion clinic and she was promptly told that the side effects she was experiencing were “normal and routine.” Only three days after her initial visit to the clinic, Brenda was rushed to a hospital where doctors determined she had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.  Unfortunately, the diagnosis came too late. Brenda slipped into a coma and passed away later that evening.

Proponents of medication abortion are dismissive of women like Holly and Brenda. They say these deaths are just a “miniscule number.” They’re quick to quote statistics and hastily conclude RU-486 is a safe method to end pregnancies. However, these deaths are not trivial for the families of Holly and Brenda.

Moreover, the statistics that abortion proponents rely on betray truth and common sense. The average woman loses four times more blood during a medication abortion than she would lose in a surgical abortion. It doesn’t take formal medical education to know that excessive and extensive bleeding is a precursor to a variety of dangerous and life-threatening conditions. The bleeding induced by medication abortions has forced thousands of women into hospital stays for blood transfusions and infections, all from a pill that they were told was “safe.”

In a recent, unceremoniously published document, the FDA now reports that in the short time medication abortion has been approved for use in the United States, 14 women have died – Holly, Brenda, and twelve other women who have their own stories. The truth is that there are two lives that enter an abortion clinic, and each has a profound and inherent value.  Statistics should never be used to soften the reality of the lives that have been claimed at the hands of RU-486. They should instead renew for us the true gravity of public policy as it pertains to medication abortion and our society’s solemn duty to protect life.

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