Statement by Vanessa Cullins, MD, MPH Vice President for Medical Affairs Planned Parenthood Federation of America
NEW YORK CITY — Planned Parenthood has learned this week that a woman who underwent medication abortion died several days after the procedure. We also learned that a second woman died weeks after a procedure, and we are seeking additional information about these tragic events.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the women who died. We do not know the exact cause of these incidents, but we do know that they have caused enormous pain and anguish.
To put this in context, since September 2000, when medication abortion was approved by the FDA, 560,000 medication abortions have occurred in the United States. We know of seven reported deaths of women who had medication abortions in North America. At this time, none of those deaths have been directly attributed to mifepristone. One additional death involved a woman with an undiagnosed, untreated ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous condition, that mifepristone does not treat.
The health and safety of our patients are Planned Parenthood's top priorities. That is why we continually evaluate medical information and medical studies to ensure that our services are based on the best science available. Our National Medical Committee has closely monitored medication abortion services since we began providing them in January 2001. Due to health concerns about infection rates and adverse events, we are updating our medical protocol for medication abortion.
Our health centers will no longer recommend the option of administering misoprostol vaginally (misoprostol is the second drug in the two-drug medication abortion regimen). Patients will now receive misoprostol orally or buccally (where the pill is placed between the cheek and gum and dissolves). This change in protocol is effective immediately.
We are committed to providing the highest quality health care. For nearly 90 years, Planned Parenthood has been a trusted health care provider. Every year, nearly five million women, men and teens rely on our reproductive health information, education and services.
May 11, 2014