Today’s post is at The Stream: Did Ohio’s New Abortion Law Cause An Increase In Adverse Events?
…The drugs mifepristone and misoprostol are sometimes injected into pregnant women to kill the lives inside their wombs. The procedure is called a “medical” or “medication abortion” to distinguish it from other methods of killing the unborn, usually involving sharp objects or vacuums.
In 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a version of the mifepristone + misoprostol method of killing. This version requires medium doses of both drugs be given at an abortionist’s office on different days. To ease demands on their time, some abortionists instead prefer a second, “off-label” combination of these drugs: a high dose of mifepristone at the office and a low dose of misoprostol self-administered at would-be mothers’ homes.
The distinction is important because Ohio in February 2011 passed a law requiring abortionists to use only the FDA-approved method. The law was passed in dispute. Some abortionists complained that the work of killing was better using the off-label method.
A group of researchers led by Ushma D. Upadhyay tried to investigate the questions, studying pre-law and post-law abortion data. They published their attempt in “Comparison of Outcomes before and after Ohio’s Law Mandating Use of the FDA-Approved Protocol for Medication Abortion: A Retrospective Cohort Study” in the journal PLOS: Medicine.
The researchers found four abortion sites willing to cooperate with their research. The immediate finding was that the fraction of medication abortions dropped dramatically at all four of the abortion sites after the law passed. The average rate was 22% of all abortions were medication before the law, which dropped to only 5% some time after. One site even discontinued medication abortions for a period of almost two years.
The researchers do not say if the medication abortions that were performed post-law were all the FDA-approved method or if any were the now illegal off-label method. This is not surprising, because admitting to use of the off-label method would be admitting violating the law. Given that the sympathies of the abortionists and the researchers was not with the law, it is possible biases creep in, both in the analyses and in way treatments themselves are administered. Confirmation bias is ever a possibility…
More people who would have benefited from reading my book Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics. Go to the Stream and read the rest.