New York Magazine Told Women To Lie About Their Abortions. Experts Say This Jeopardizes Their Health.

An anti-abortion protester in 2017 / Getty Images
May 27, 2022

A New York magazine article encouraged women to lie to medical professionals about taking chemical abortion pills, a move experts say could lead to serious health ramifications.

The magazine advised women to "avoid mentioning abortion, and the pills, entirely" when at the hospital, which will then treat the abortion as a miscarriage. Women who refuse to disclose that they took abortion pills, however, average more than three inpatient hospital admissions to treat complications after their initial emergency room visit—a 78 percent higher rate than women who did disclose, according to a study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life organization.

"Patient concealment and/or physician failure to identify a prior abortion during an ER visit is a significant risk factor for a subsequent hospital admission," concluded the study's authors, who relied on Medicaid records of abortions in the United States. "Patients and ER personnel should be made aware of this risk."

The institute released the report just days before New York published a piece titled "A Primer on Where to Find the Abortion Pill," which encouraged women who have taken abortion pills to lie to doctors, citing a study that shows the drug's low complication rate. "You are now having a miscarriage; everyone at the ER should treat you accordingly, so avoid mentioning abortion, and the pills, entirely," wrote journalists Rebecca Grant and Elizabeth Isadora Gold.

But the study New York cited only requires reports from the abortion pill distributors—not emergency rooms. Studies that include data from emergency rooms show a complication rate of 5 percent—roughly 10 times higher than the figure found by studies without these data. For example, women whose abortions were miscoded were twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital for surgery to remove fetal remains. Of those women who seek emergency room care after taking chemical abortion pills, 61 percent were labeled as miscarriages, according to the new study.

Abortion groups have focused on access to chemical abortion pills as the Supreme Court weighs an overturn of Roe v. Wade. The Food and Drug Administration in December made permanent its pandemic-era decision to allow pregnant women to receive abortion pills in the mail. The same decision also allowed women to obtain the drugs without an in-person exam. The abortion pill method has four times the complication rate of surgical abortions and has in recent years become the most popular method of abortion.

Illegal suppliers of abortion pills such as Aid Access and Plan C have also pushed the false claim that abortions via chemical pills are equivalent to miscarriages. The companies mail the drugs in the United States, even though they lack approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Ingrid Skop, a senior fellow at the Charlotte Lozier Institute with more than 25 years of experience as an ob-gyn, said it can be difficult to discuss issues such as abortion with patients, but lying can only lead to more danger.

"I can't understand why the abortion industry seeks to nullify and even exacerbate a woman's grief and experience by telling her to conceal important and medically necessary information from her physician," Skop said.