The abortion battle could now be shifting from retail surgical baby-killing to wholesale chemical baby-killing. After withstanding nearly 10 years of bitter opposition, the US Federal Drug Administration, bowing to the political pressure from the abortion lobby and the White House, has finally approved the abortion pill RU 486. The drug also known as mifepristone - trade name Mifeprex - is officially only to be used for abortions up to 49 days after the first missed menstrual period. This chemical "coat hanger" abortion is currently under trial in Canada and several other countries where it should also be available for purchase very soon.

This latest perversion of medical science can best be described as the equivalent of a miniature chemical bomb detonated inside a mother's womb. It is the main ingredient in the "Abort at Home" program proponents believe will mainstream abortion in the public consciousness and make it universally acceptable.

The long, drawn-out, multi-visit chemical abortion process is authorized in 12 of the 15 European Union countries, with the exception of Ireland, Portugal and Italy. Besides France, RU 486 has met its greatest success in Sweden, where it was introduced in 1992. In 1999, one-third of all abortions in Sweden were performed with RU 486.

And just how "safe" and "simple" is RU 486? Far from the myth of a simple, safe procedure, taking the abortifacient is an involved, complicated, multi-step process. It requires two drugs and three visits. A woman receives the RU 486 pills in her first visit after an examination. She then comes back for a second visit two days later to take a second drug, a prostaglandin - usually misoprostol. The RU 486 blocks the action of the hormone progesterone, leading to the breakdown of the uterine lining that provides the developing baby`s nourishment. The baby starves to death. The misoprostol initiates powerful uterine contractions to expel the shrivelled corpse. About half of the women abort in the four hours they spend in the doctor`s office during this second visit. The rest abort at home, at work, on the bus, or not at all. A third visit, coming two weeks after the first, confirms whether or not the abortion has taken place. The range of failure to abort is between 8% and 23%.

André Ullman, medical director of Roussel Uclaf, the French company that manufactures RU 486 in Europe has been quoted as saying "RU 486 should not be regarded as a 'do-it-yourself' substitute for(surgical abortion) because of the very heavy bleeding that can occur." This is an admission that the drug is dangerous and, contrary to the claims of women`s groups, is not a safe alternative to surgical abortion. Possible side effects of RU 486 for the baby`s mother include infertility, liver, kidney and heart muscle damage, lung failure, gastro intestinal problems and convulsions. During the U.S. drug trials, one woman in Iowa nearly bled to death after taking RU 486. The abortion process puts 1 out of every 100 women in the hospital. Two percent of women have such severe bleeding they require surgery. Between 24 and 61 percent of women taking RU 486 experience nausea while 15 to 26 percent vomit. Seventy-nine to 96 percent of women reported pain that required strong analgesics. A French study showed that out of 950 women who used the drug, 270 required narcotics to control intense pain and seven required blood transfusions.

None other than Edward Edouard Sakiz, who holds the patent on RU 486, warned, "The woman must live with this for a full week, this is an appalling psychological ordeal." Often a woman will pass parts of her baby at home. Firm instructions are that she must save whatever passes in a jar, and bring it to the doctor to see if everything is out.

It is very important to note that the FDA has allowed the dangerous use of misoprostol even after the manufacturer wrote a letter to health care practitioners some four weeks prior to its RU 486 approval, warning that the drug is not intended for use by pregnant women? The company (Searle) make the following statement concerning misoprostrol whose role in the abortion process is to induce contractions, but whose sole labelled use is the treatment of ulcers: "Serious adverse events were reported following off-label use of Cytotec (misoprostrol`s brand name) in pregnant women include maternal or fetal death, uterine hyperstimulation, rupture or perforation requiring...surgical repair, hysterectomy or [other treatment]...severe vaginal bleeding...and shock."

It is equally crucial to note that trials of RU 486 excluded women who had the following health conditions: smokers; cardiovascular problems; asthma; glaucoma; diabetes; hypertension; renal, hepatic or adrenal insufficiency; anaemia; and were over age 35. There is no data on how RU 486 affects women with these conditions; but the FDA`s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee will nevertheless allow such women to use RU 486. There is also a lack of data on teenagers. The FDA excluded those under 18 from their U.S. trials, but will nonetheless allow teenagers to use the drug. Also, with about 45% of abortions now repeat abortions, what will be the effect on women of multiple uses of RU 486? Make no mistake about it, an unknown number of women WILL die, while countless others will suffer, and/or be absolutely freaked out when they see their aborted baby floating around in the toilet.

While women have generally been shielded from witnessing the physical violence of an abortion by a doctor's sheet, RU 486 will now bring women face-to-face with the violence of abortion. How does the FDA justify the crushing emotional damage women will experience as they expel a recognizable human being in a doctor`s office, at home, at work or in a college dorm?

Significantly, this is the first time in history that the FDA has approved a drug explicitly used for the purpose of destroying rather than saving life. What in fact it has approved is a human pesticide. What a devastating precedent for a government controlled body to establish!

RU 486 is just another advance in the culture of death. It was supposedly created to anaesthetize the woman`s conscience by providing her with a presumably guilt-free abortion. In fact, an RU 486 abortion is much worse than a surgical abortion. As the woman is the one performing her own abortion, she must shoulder all of the blame because she can't target the abortionist as the perpetrator. 

According to the Pro-Choice movement, women seek abortions because of a lack of financial resources and a lack of emotional resources. How national governments can suggest that women poison themselves and their children in order to accommodate society`s lack of resources for women and children is nothing but ruthless and degrading.

The French geneticist, Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, eloquently expressed the peril of legalizing RU 486: "If you introduce a poison for your own children with the benediction of the state...how do you suppose it can be good to kill your own baby but not your enemy?" The Vatican`s Observatore Romano also strongly condemned RU 486 as "the pill of Cain, the monster that cynically kills one`s brother."

Thaddée Renault

Fredericton, New Brunswick

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