On September 28, a crucial decision was made that gave women’s choice activists visions of hope and forced placard-holding pro-life supporters to drop their signs in defeat. The Food and Drug Administration had finally approved the controversial abortion pill, Mifeprex, or RU-486, for distribution in the United States. Mifeprex, which will allow women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy up to 49 days from their last menstrual period, is nothing new. It has actually been in existence all over Europe under the name RU-486 but only now has it been approved for release in the United States. The delay was a result of heated political hoopla that has obviously surrounded the issue in recent years.
Mifeprex is a combination of two drugs; mifepristone and misoprostol, each are separate pills that work together in the process. Mifepristone interferes with the hormone that enables the fertilized egg to cling to the uterus lining. When administered two days later, Misoprostol is then responsible for prompting uterine contractions that promote bleeding and rid the body of the fetus. The procedure requires the patient to meet with her doctor the day she takes each of the pills and again fourteen days later to ensure that everything followed smoothly. Women who decide to take the pill should be aware of the almost unavoidable side effects such as cramping and bleeding that can last for nine to 16 days afterwards.
With the release of this “new” pill also comes the release of new uncertainties. While women’s choice activists take pride in this new technological advance, Pro-life supporters suspect that the availability of this pill will result in an increase in the number of abortions that occur. They have referred to Mifeprex as “another weapon in the armamentarium of death,” and fear for the safety of women taking this drug. Dr. Phillip Madonna, an obstetrician/gynecologist who opposes all forms of abortion, said, “There is more bleeding, more hemorrhaging, more need for transfusions and even documented cases of death from this drug.” Researches claim, on the other hand, that out of the 500,000 women who have taken the pill in Europe, only one has died. Some pro-life supporters even go so far as to point out that the RU-486 manufacturer works under a reformed Nazi chemical giant in an attempt to emphasize their belief that abortion and those who support it are inherently evil.
They have referred to Mifeprex as “another weapon in the armamentarium of death,” and fear for the safety of women taking this drug.
Pro-choicers, brimming with hope for the future of women’s health, see Mifeprex in a whole different light. “Mifepristone, or the early-abortion pill, is as significant a technological advance for women’s health as the birth control pill was 40 years ago,” said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood. The secrecy of the pill and the protection it will provide for the so named “abortion doctors” who claim they sometimes fear for their life. They claim it is a very positive thing because it enables women, if they choose to terminate a pregnancy, to do it earlier and without having to lie on an operating table.
The abortion pill is not less expensive then a surgical abortion but runs at pretty much the same cost-about $300. In addition, having a medical abortion does not necessarily mean it will be easier on the patient. “An abortion with the pill may be no easier than a surgical abortion because it requires three trips to the doctor, the first two visits two days apart, as opposed to one day for a surgical abortion,” agrees Pat Mitchell, director of the Center For Choice. Most pro-life supporters oppose the pill simply because they believe it is still murder. “I’m totally against abortion whether it’s done surgically or medically. A fetus feels pain,” says student Jessica Reyes.
“I think the pill is a good thing because it is a scientific development. I agree that it will be much easier,” said Lisa Danker
As for now the FDA reassures all Americans that “the approval of Mifeprex is the result of the FDA’s careful evaluation of the scientific evidence related to the safe and effective use of this drug,” and that they adhered to all their legal mandates as a science-based health regulatory service. According to the French ministry of health officials in Paris, it has been reported that RU-486 has not replaced surgery as the most common form of abortion. It has also not increased the number of abortions.
By Julia Botero