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Basic facts about pregnancy & abortion

Developments with the RU-486
abortion pill
during 1999 & 2000


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Quotation:

  • "If you outlawed RU-486 today and took it off the market, it would be a great thing but I'm not certain that it would stop one abortion," Mark Crutcher, of Life Dynamics.

Developments during 1999:

  • 1999-JUL-7, Europe: The German government has ended the ban on the sale of RU-486 in that country. Under European Union regulations, they would have had to present reasons to maintain the ban; they could find none. This action was an election promise of the current government which replaced the Christian Democrat party in 1998-SEP. Roman Catholic Archbishop Joachim Meisner of Cologne said that the decision was illegal. He called RU-486 a "murder pill." 1   Robert Sassone, director of the World Life League commented: "Those who kill via RU-486 treat humans not yet born as non-persons. The chemical means of killing these babies is disquietingly similar to the mode of killing with the gases used by the Nazis." Seven other European countries also legalized RU-486.
  • 1999-AUG-25: Switzerland: A pro-life group in Switzerland, Swiss Aid for Mother and Child (ASME) has appealed to a Swiss court to overrule the decision of the Inter-Cantonal Office for Control of Medicines (OICM), and thus prevent the introduction of RU-486 to that  country.

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Developments during the year 2000:

  • 2000-FEB-14: USA Pro-life activity: Focus on the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian organization, predicted that RU-486 would be available by prescription as early as 2000-APR. They are concerned that many physicians who had not done surgical abortions in the past will now prescribe RU-486. "Focus" reports that: "As the FDA finalizes protocols for dispensing the drug, pro-life advocates are appealing to public outrage and for prompt recall by Congress." 2
  • 2000-APR-2: USA Poll: The Gallup Organization completed a public opinion survey on RU-486. The question was: "Would you, personally, favor or oppose making RU-486 -- an abortion pill -- available in the United States as a prescription drug?" The result was: 39% favored the availability of the pill; 47% were opposed. This is a reduction in support since their 1996-JUL survey, when the results were 43% favor and 44% opposed. The same question was asked both times. 3
  • 2000-JUN-12: USA: RU-486 regulations: According to Family News in Focus, and EWTN News, the Food and Drug Administration is considering regulations that would require Doctors prescribing RU-486 to:
    • Be part of a national registry.
    • Be trained in providing surgical abortions.
    • Have admitting privileges at a hospital within a one-hour trip of their offices.
    • Perform follow-up studies on their patients. 4
  • 2000-JUN-27: Canada: Clinical trials of RU-486 began on JUN-27 in Vancouver, and were scheduled to begin about JUL-10 in Toronto. Trials will also be held in two other provinces. Possibly in reaction to these trials, Dr. Garson Romalis was stabbed in the back near his office on JUL-11. He is the same abortion provider who survived an assassination attempt in 1994 when an anti-abortion terrorist shot him in the leg. This time, Dr. Romalis' injuries are not life threatening. A spokesperson from the B.C. Pro-life Society disassociated her organization from this act of violence. A spokesperson for the Pro-Choice Action Network expressed frustration at the level of violence that abortion providers must live with. One day later, the physician who is conducting the RU-486 trials in Vancouver received a death threat. On JUL-13, the Vancouver Police received a phone call from a terrorist allegedly representing the Baby Liberation Army. He warned abortion providers to watch their back -- an apparent reference to the stabbing of Dr. Romalis.
  • 2000-JUL-13: USA Congressional action: A bill to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from developing, testing or approving RU-486 failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 182 to 187. The vote may have been distorted by the absence of about 60 members of congress whose return to Washington was delayed by storms in the Midwest. According to its sponsor, Rep. Tom Coburn (OK-R), the bill would "limit the expenditure of federal funds by the Food and Drug Administration in their efforts to approve drugs whose sole purpose is to terminate life." Scott Weinberg, spokesperson for the American Life League commented: "It was a good amendment, and it just shows you the state of the nation. We have the FDA involved in abortion providing. We have the Supreme Court effectively legalizing infanticide. I mean, for crying out loud, what is going on in America?.
  • 2000-SEP-28: USA: RU-486 approval: FDA gave its approval to RU-486. It will be called the "Early Option Pill." Distribution was scheduled to begin by the end of 2000-OCT. Due to concern about anti-abortion violence, the FDA has increased security in some of its offices. The names of the medical officers who reviewed the drug are being kept secret. 

    The FDA has passed a number of regulations concerning this drug:
    • They require that each woman who will be given Mifepristone will receive a "MedGuide" brochure. It will explain eligibility requirements, and the probable side effects. It will also stress that she must make three trips to the doctor during the procedure.
    • It will only be available from physicians who are trained to determine the duration of pregnancy accurately, and to detect ectopic (tubal) pregnancies.
    • A doctor who prescribes the medication who are qualified to perform a surgical abortion if needed, or who have made prior arrangements for a competent surgeon to provide an abortion.

    Reactions were not long in coming:

    • Judie Brown of the American Life League said: "We will not tolerate the FDA's decision to approve the destruction of innocent human persons through chemical abortion."
    • Dr. Stanley Henshaw, a senior fellow at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, commented: "I think it will be a great benefit to women." He estimates that the 90% of women who live outside of major cities and had no close access to abortion services will be able to use this pill.
    • Dr. Benson Harer, Jr., of the Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno, CA said: "We're very happy about it. It's probably long overdue. I think it will greatly expand the ability of women to have abortions without having to travel great distances." 5
    • Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer said that the approval is "a payoff by the Clinton administration to the abortion radicals.
    • Ann Stone of  Republicans for Choice favored the ruling; she said: "It's about time. I'm celebrating." 6
    • NARAL President Kate Michelman said: Mifepristone's approval is one of the most significant advances in women's reproductive health that we have seen in decades. Its approval today is yet another milestone on the long road to women's reproductive freedom and equality in this country...The FDA's action today opens doors long closed to American women, but the benefits of mifepristone will reach far beyond the realm of reproductive freedom and choice. The potential mifepristone holds for the treatment and possible eradication of numerous diseases could mean an end to the suffering of millions of Americans.. George W. Bush has...stated his opposition to mifepristone and has said he would be 'inclined not to accept' the FDA's ruling if it approved the drug. Al Gore supports the approval of mifepristone."
  • 2000-OCT-5: Philippines: According to CWNews: The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that "Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez was quoted earlier as saying that RU-486 is not an abortive drug....He was reported as saying that if the drug's manufacturer filed for registration with the Bureau of Food and Drugs, the application would be treated like any other and would not be blocked." Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, spokesperson for the Philippine [Roman Catholic] Bishops' Conference, noted that anyone taking RU-486 is automatically excommunicated. "Ipso facto excommunication. It does not have to be announced anymore. It is automatic.
  • 2000-OCT-9: USA: Federal bill to restrict RU-486: Representative Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced a bill, the "RU-486 Patient Health and Safety Act" which would set into law some of the FDA's regulations.  A similar bill was introduced into the Senate by Tim Hutchinson (R-AR). The bill appears to be based on some inaccurate beliefs about RU-486: that the second, prostaglandin, pill is caustic, that it causes serious birth defects, and that the complication rate of RU-486 is 5%. 7
  • 2000-OCT-13: USA: Pro-life groups object to country of origin of RU-486: According to Catholic World News Briefs on this date, some U.S. pro-life groups are concerned that Mifeprex will be manufactured in China. In an apparent reference to China's forced abortion policy, Judie Brown, president of American Life League commented: "The Clinton Administration has teamed up with the world's most infamous baby-killer -- Communist China -- to produce the abortion chemical, RU-486," said  "No wonder the FDA tried to keep secret the source of these baby-destroying chemicals." [Author's note: Actually, it was Danco Laboratories who negotiated the contract with a Chinese pharmaceutical company. No North American company would agree to manufacture Mifeprex, fearing terrorist attacks on their facilities by anti-abortion activists, boycotts of all of their products by pro-life groups, and lawsuits.]
  • 2000-NOV-22: USA: RU-486 pills available: According to ReligionToday:
    These abortion-producing pills will be available to women in the U.S. today. Pro-life Wisconsin is distributing Community Action Kits. They describe how pro-lifers can find out which physicians in the community will prescribe RU-486 and which pharmacies will fill prescriptions. State director Peggy Hamill explained that "Physicians who are considering dispensing Mifeprex need to know that if they do, they will be labeled an abortionist in their community. We truly believe the reputable doctors will not get involved in this at all, because they know what it is." The kit also contains sample letters to the editor and newspaper ads.
  • 2000-DEC-8: USA: College clinics not distributing RU-486: "Why Life," the youth division of American Life League surveyed every college in states along the Eastern Seaboard. They found that only one will be dispensing RU-486. Most colleges gave two reasons for this decision: They don't have an obstetrician or gynecologist on staff. They are not open 24 hours a day, and thus cannot give continuous care. In addition, they may fear adverse publicity from pro-life groups. 8

Later developments are listed separately


References:

  1. "Germany clears ban on abortion pill," Charisma News Service, reprinted by Maranatha Christian Journal at: http://www.mcjonline.com/
  2. Dave Clark, "RU-486: A bitter pill," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/
  3. "Abortion Issues," Gallup Organization, at: http://www.gallup.com/  
  4. Dave Clark, "FDA could offer RU-486 restrictions," Focus on the Family, at:http://www.family.org/
  5. Tom Curry, "FDA decision has political impact," http://www.msnbc.com/
  6. S. Boyd, "Give us liberty: The approval of RU-486 isn't about morals, it's about options," Salon.com at: http://www.salon.com/
  7. Martha Lkeder, "Lawmakers try to protect women from RU-486," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/ 
  8. Stuart Shepard, "Most college clinics refuse to dispense RU-486," Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/

Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" topics > Abortion > Facts > RU-486 > here


Copyright 1999 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-DEC-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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