Non-surgical, medically induced abortions
The RU-486 abortion pill
The medication "mifepristone" was developed in France by Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu in 1980. He found a method of preventing a woman's body from producing a hormone that sustains early pregnancy. The pill is widely know as "RU-486" throughout North America. The letters is taken from the initials of the pharmaceutical company Roussel-Uclaf. The "486" is said to be an arbitrary lab serial number. 1 However, some skeptics have suggested that RU-486 really means "aRe yoU FOR getting rid of..." "86" has been a common abbreviation in English since the mid 1930's; it means "ignore" or "get rid of." 2
RU-486 was first introduced in France, where it is called Mifegyne. It has been used, in combination with prostaglandin medication, to induce abortions in about 500,000 women over the last two decades.
Over the last fifteen years, dozens of clinical studies on RU-486 have been conducted with thousands of women in over 20 countries, including France, Britain, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.S., Scandinavia, and the former Soviet Union. 3 By 1999, mifespristone was approved for marketing and sale in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, the Netherlands and Spain. 4 Danco Laboratories, the U.S. distributor had expected to be selling the pill in that country by the end of 1999. 3 That did not happen. The FDA finally approved the pill for U.S. distribution on 2000-SEP-28. It first became available in 2000-DEC. The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that during the first six months of 2001, more than 37,000 abortions were induced using RU-486 and similar medication. This represented approximately six percent of all abortions performed. 5
As of 2002-MAY, initial indications are that about 29% of women who are eligible to use RU-486, and to whom it was offered, have chosen it in preference to a surgical abortion. 6
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