Get Real! The Luck (or Not) of the Draw

Heather Corinna

Using withdrawal may have sometimes protected you, but you've been lucky -- and at risk for a sexually transmitted infection.

lisasucks asks:

I’m 19
and my boyfriend is 28. We’ve been having sex for a year now and we
have not been very careful at all. We never use condoms! It’s weird
though cause I have not gotten pregnant. He usually doesn’t ejaculate
in me LOL but still. . . . I always joke and tell him he’s sterile but
now I’m really thinking he is. Since I haven’t gotten pregnant does
this mean there is something wrong with my boyfriend or me? Or does it
just mean I’m lucky?

Heather replies:

you are not looking to become pregnant, then chances are good you have
just been very lucky so far. Generally, in one year of sex without any
method of birth control, around 80 – 90% of young women will become
pregnant. So, for now, it seems you’ve been that 10 – 20% of women who
haven’t…so far.

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However, it doesn’t sound like you haven’t actually been using NO
method at all, you’ve been using withdrawal, just not consistently.
According to sound sources like Contraceptive Technology and
Planned Parenthood, used perfectly, withdrawal is around 96% effective,
but in typical use (the way most people use methods), it’s one of the
two least effective methods there are: it’s only around 73% effective
with typical use.

You also may or may not have gotten lucky when it comes to sexually
transmitted infections, which you are just as much at risk of as you
are of pregnancy, and which withdrawal doesn’t offer you protection
from. I say you may or may not have because I don’t know if you (or he)
have gotten screened for sexually transmitted infections during your
relationship. Most often, STIs are asymptomatic: in other words, a
person who has one, will not see or find obvious symptoms on their own
without a healthcare professional and tests. If neither of you haven
gotten tested, you may be sitting with an infection you don’t even know
you have while you’re reading this.

Personally, I don’t really think STIs or unwanted pregnancies are LOL. I’m more inclined to file them in the OMFG department.

Most people’s experiences with them are that they’re not funny at
all, but instead, that they are anything from very unamusing to
seriously devastating. I have to say, I also don’t think gambling with
things that could have a pretty huge impact on your life and health —
and for you, most of those risks are far higher and more serious than
they are for him — are funny. I don’t find male partners who are
cavalier about putting female partners at risk of unwanted pregnancy
(and for your information, older male partners often are found to do
this more often than same-age partners are) at all amusing or cute or
funny. On a good day, I find them intensely irritating. On a bad day, I
can only find myself fuming incoherently or come up with words for them
I try not to use here at Scarleteen.

One never wants to just presume a partner to be free of STIs or
infertile, or find out if they are by experimenting with your own body,
especially if you don’t want or are not ready to discover that they are
neither of those things the hard way. The sound way to find out if a
person is infertile or not is through testing, not by risking a
consequence you or they don’t want or are not ready to deal with. As
well, know that male infertility is less common than female
infertility. It also stands to mention that with female infertility,
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
is one of the leading causes of infertility, and PID usually results
from an untreated sexually transmitted infection. So, if you care about
your own fertility, as well as your own general health, gambling with
STIs isn’t wise.

Here’s what I would ask you to ask of yourself: do you want to become pregnant right now? Additionally, do you want a sexually transmitted infection?

If not, then it’s time to seriously change your habits with sex,
pronto. What that means if you want protection from both is absolutely
using condoms for any oral, vaginal or anal sex, every single time you
do any of those things, from start to finish. That also means both of
you getting tested for all STIs regularly, and treated if either of you
has any STIs. Obviously, that also means choosing to be with a partner
(and being this kind of partner yourself) who takes and treats these
risks seriously. If you use female condoms, you don’t have to have a
partner’s cooperation with condom use: if you use male ones, you
obviously do. After six months of safer sex practices and tests which
show both of you clear of infections, and you’re both staying only with
each other as partners, if you both want to go without condoms then —
if you still want to prevent pregnancy — you can use another method of
birth control, such as oral contraceptives (the pill), cervical
barriers, an IUD, whatever you prefer. You also have the option of
using BOTH condoms and another method from here on out to up your
protection, or if you want to stay with this guy, but he just refuses
to use a condom. Suffice it to say, you also have the option of
choosing partners who take the risks of sex a lot more seriously.

My personal advice is also that no matter what type of barriers you
use or want to use, you choose partners who are on-board with safer sex
and with having a strong investment in the health of both of you, both
for your psychical health as well as to help have sexual relationships
of real quality. Obviously, partners who won’t cooperate with safer sex
and reliable birth control — or who enable their partners who are also
resistant to being safe — present health risks, and also risks of just
winding up in a spot we don’t want to be in when it comes to a
pregnancy or an STI. But partners who won’t cooperate with these
practices also can often tend to be partners who aren’t such great
partners in other respects, either. And a partner who can’t deal with
the responsibilities sex requires is probably not going to do so well
dealing with the far more complex and demanding responsibilities being
a parent requires.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that dismissing our health and
well-being with this stuff tends to often show up a dynamic we might
have in other areas of a relationship. A partner who won’t be a
supportive partner in contraception may also not be a supportive
partner when it comes to our life goals, to having a sex life that
involves real mutuality, to working through conflicts together like
grownups, to being responsible in other areas.

My personal rule for myself when it comes to sexual partners who
won’t practice safer sex or who are strongly resistant to managing
safer sex or contraception is to throw that fish back. I don’t know
about you, but I know that for myself, while sex is certainly fun, I
can’t have a whole lot of fun with someone, sexually or otherwise, who
doesn’t take things that could really mess me up very seriously. I feel
like that behaviour both shows me that person isn’t really ready to be
the kind of sexual partner I want and am likely to have a great sex
life with, and also indicates they’re probably going to be
less-than-fabulous in other areas, too.

I don’t know anything else about your relationship, so only you can
determine if this is a relationship you think is worth keeping around,
and where you are going to be able to draw a line on this and be gladly
respected. If it is an otherwise good relationship for you, then my
suggestion is to come to your boyfriend and make clear that from here
on out, you need the both of you to be more responsible and adult about
sex and reducing your risks; that you need to start on that path with
both of you having a round of STI tests and using condoms for ALL sex,
always, for at least the next six months.

I’d expect someone who earnestly cared for you to have no problem
with that whatsoever, and consider that someone who makes a big stink
about that or tries to argue against it may not care enough to be safe
as a partner for you or anyone else. I’d also figure that someone who
didn’t realize that you — not he, as he gets to be lucky in this no
matter what — becoming pregnant when you don’t want to isn’t any kind
of joke isn’t someone who can take your life seriously enough to be a
safe partner, as well as the kind of partner who supports you taking
your OWN life seriously. Sometimes, if we think little of ourselves or
our own lives, we can wind up drawing people to us who can see that and
seek to exploit it. Sometimes, our habits around sexual health and
contraception can also tell us a lot about how much or how little we
value ourselves, not just what value a partner has for us.

If you think or know that from the get-go, he’s not going to be
cooperative, and you don’t feel like a pregnancy or getting an STI is
worth whatever benefits you’re getting from not protecting yourself,
then my suggestion is to nix this relationship and hold out for a
partner with more maturity and care for the both of you. I know he’s
older than you, but age alone does not always mean someone is mature or
more mature.

If you feel like no matter what partner you’re with, and you have a
hard time being responsible for yourself in this way, I think it’s
helpful to sit down and take a look at what you really want with your
life. A pregnancy or a kid before you’re ready or when you don’t want
one can make life a lot more challenging, and can either derail some
things you might want, or just make getting them a lot tougher. An STI
— especially the ones that aren’t easily treated or which we don’t
have a cure for — can do a real number on your quality of life. Both
pregnancy and infections pose short and long-term risks to your health
and well-being. For that matter, a partner who doesn’t take your life
or theirs seriously can also really keep you from a life well-lived.

You might want to sit down with a piece of paper and look at where
you want to go: with school, work, with your own dreams and
aspirations, with your health, with how you feel in your body and mind,
and with your interpersonal relationships. What do you want? What do
you need to do — and also ideally avoid — to get what you want? What
does your best life look like, and how are your current partner and
your current habits in alignment (or not) with that ideal? In doing
that, you not only will probably see why being more responsible about
sex is more important, you might also discover if this relationship is
a good one for you, full-stop. That’s good information to have to
assure you make the best choices you can for yourself, with sex and
with everything else.

Here is some additional information you can use to consider all of this, and to have on hand when you talk to your boyfriend:

Roundups Sexual Health

This Week in Sex: The Sexually Transmitted Infections Edition

Martha Kempner

A new Zika case suggests the virus can be transmitted from an infected woman to a male partner. And, in other news, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, and an experimental chlamydia vaccine shows signs of promise.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Zika May Have Been Sexually Transmitted From a Woman to Her Male Partner

A new case suggests that males may be infected with the Zika virus through unprotected sex with female partners. Researchers have known for a while that men can infect their partners through penetrative sexual intercourse, but this is the first suspected case of sexual transmission from a woman.

The case involves a New York City woman who is in her early 20s and traveled to a country with high rates of the mosquito-borne virus (her name and the specific country where she traveled have not been released). The woman, who experienced stomach cramps and a headache while waiting for her flight back to New York, reported one act of sexual intercourse without a condom the day she returned from her trip. The following day, her symptoms became worse and included fever, fatigue, a rash, and tingling in her hands and feet. Two days later, she visited her primary-care provider and tests confirmed she had the Zika virus.

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A few days after that (seven days after intercourse), her male partner, also in his 20s, began feeling similar symptoms. He had a rash, a fever, and also conjunctivitis (pink eye). He, too, was diagnosed with Zika. After meeting with him, public health officials in the New York City confirmed that he had not traveled out of the country nor had he been recently bit by a mosquito. This leaves sexual transmission from his partner as the most likely cause of his infection, though further tests are being done.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for preventing Zika have been based on the assumption that virus was spread from a male to a receptive partner. Therefore the recommendations had been that pregnant women whose male partners had traveled or lived in a place where Zika virus is spreading use condoms or abstain from sex during the pregnancy. For those couples for whom pregnancy is not an issue, the CDC recommended that men who had traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks and had symptoms of the virus, use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after their trip. It also suggested that men who traveled but don’t have symptoms use condoms for at least eight weeks.

Based on this case—the first to suggest female-to-male transmission—the CDC may extend these recommendations to couples in which a female traveled to a country with an outbreak.

More Signs of Gonorrhea’s Growing Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the CDC released new data on gonorrhea and warned once again that the bacteria that causes this common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it.

There are about 350,000 cases of gonorrhea reported each year, but it is estimated that 800,000 cases really occur with many going undiagnosed and untreated. Once easily treatable with antibiotics, the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae has steadily gained resistance to whole classes of antibiotics over the decades. By the 1980s, penicillin no longer worked to treat it, and in 2007 the CDC stopped recommending the use of fluoroquinolones. Now, cephalosporins are the only class of drugs that work. The recommended treatment involves a combination of ceftriaxone (an injectable cephalosporin) and azithromycin (an oral antibiotic).

Unfortunately, the data released last week—which comes from analysis of more than 5,000 samples of gonorrhea (called isolates) collected from STI clinics across the country—shows that the bacteria is developing resistance to these drugs as well. In fact, the percentage of gonorrhea isolates with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin increased more than 300 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent).

Though no cases of treatment failure has been reported in the United States, this is a troubling sign of what may be coming. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in a press release: “It is unclear how long the combination therapy of azithromycin and ceftriaxone will be effective if the increases in resistance persists. We need to push forward on multiple fronts to ensure we can continue offering successful treatment to those who need it.”

HPV-Related Cancers Up Despite Vaccine 

The CDC also released new data this month showing an increase in HPV-associated cancers between 2008 and 2012 compared with the previous five-year period. HPV or human papillomavirus is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, HPV is so common that the CDC believes most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives. Many cases of HPV clear spontaneously with no medical intervention, but certain types of the virus cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus, mouth, and neck.

The CDC’s new data suggests that an average of 38,793 HPV-associated cancers were diagnosed each year between 2008 and 2012. This is a 17 percent increase from about 33,000 each year between 2004 and 2008. This is a particularly unfortunate trend given that the newest available vaccine—Gardasil 9—can prevent the types of HPV most often linked to cancer. In fact, researchers estimated that the majority of cancers found in the recent data (about 28,000 each year) were caused by types of the virus that could be prevented by the vaccine.

Unfortunately, as Rewire has reported, the vaccine is often mired in controversy and far fewer young people have received it than get most other recommended vaccines. In 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. In comparison, nearly 80 percent of young people in this age group had received the vaccine that protects against meningitis.

In response to the newest data, Dr. Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, told HealthDay:

In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer. Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes—and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe.

Making Inroads Toward a Chlamydia Vaccine

An article published in the journal Vaccine shows that researchers have made progress with a new vaccine to prevent chlamydia. According to lead researcher David Bulir of the M. G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at Canada’s McMaster University, efforts to create a vaccine have been underway for decades, but this is the first formulation to show success.

In 2014, there were 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia in the United States. While this bacterial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics, it often goes undiagnosed because many people show no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave scar tissue in the fallopian tubes or uterus and ultimately result in infertility.

The experimental vaccine was created by Canadian researchers who used pieces of the bacteria that causes chlamydia to form an antigen they called BD584. The hope was that the antigen could prompt the body’s immune system to fight the chlamydia bacteria if exposed to it.

Researchers gave BD584 to mice using a nasal spray, and then exposed them to chlamydia. The results were very promising. The mice who received the spray cleared the infection faster than the mice who did not. Moreover, the mice given the nasal spray were less likely to show symptoms of infection, such as bacterial shedding from the vagina or fluid blockages of the fallopian tubes.

There are many steps to go before this vaccine could become available. The researchers need to test it on other strains of the bacteria and in other animals before testing it in humans. And, of course, experience with the HPV vaccine shows that there’s work to be done to make sure people get vaccines that prevent STIs even after they’re invented. Nonetheless, a vaccine to prevent chlamydia would be a great victory in our ongoing fight against STIs and their health consequences, and we here at This Week in Sex are happy to end on a bit of a positive note.

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”