RU-486 Approval A Victory For Abortion Advocates, Not Women
By Alicia Colon
October 31, 2000
Originally Published in Staten Island Advance
As soon as the Food and Drug Administration approved the controversial French abortion pill RU-486, the endless debates started. Once again, the anti-abortion advocates made the mistake of trying to argue its position by using the phrase "it kills babies.''
When are they going to realize that their opponents just don't care about this argument? Their main concerns are more about living women's rights than the unborn and they are very effective in getting this message across. It's a waste of time getting into the moral implications of the abortion issue and there are times I wish I could be the one arguing the pro-life agenda.
One of the first things I'd change is the focus of the debate from the unborn child or "fetus'' to the pregnant woman. The National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Abortion Rights Advocacy League (NARAL) claim that their main consideration is the woman but that's a bald-faced lie. If they were the least bit worried about women they would be terrified that this pill has finally managed to cross the Atlantic.
NARAL and Planned Parenthood has been pushing for approval of RU-486 for years claiming that it has been safely in use in France for over ten years. Will the organization then take responsibility should anything go wrong here in the United States?
Does anybody remember the drug Thalidomide that was used in Europe as an anti-nausea pill for pregnant women but was not approved here by the FDA? The drug caused severe birth defects in Europe but most American women were spared because of the FDA's caution.
If NOW and NARAL had women's best interests at heart, they would be the ones asking the important questions about this drug. Have there been any deaths attributed to RU-486? Yes and there may be many more. They should be asking why the French Drug Company who manufactured ru-486 was not that anxious to market the drug here in the U.S. Could it be because America is so litigious?
When Governor George W. Bush condemned the FDA approval of ru-486 on the grounds that it would increase the number of abortions, NARAL spokespersons produced data that indicated that abortions had actually decreased in France. To conclude that the decrease is due to the drug is ridiculous. The fact is, abortions had decreased because of pro-life activities, such as protests and intervention, not because of ru-486.
Why have abortion rights advocates been pushing so hard for Ru-486? In theory, they believe that the pill taken in the privacy of a doctor's office will spare the pregnant woman the trauma she encounters at abortion clinics by picketers. In actuality, the possibility exists for the woman to be more traumatized than by the surgical procedure.
Ru-486 is an alternative abortion procedure whose only purpose is to kill a developing fetus up to 35 days after fertilization. But let's not quibble about that messy detail. Contrary to the panacea hype about the pill, ru-486 has a complicated protocol that requires from one to four visits to the doctor.
In France, there is a required week of reflection after the initial diagnostic visit, which may or may not be deemed necessary in the United States. At the next visit, the pills are taken and the patient is then scheduled to return in 48 hours at which time she receives a small amount of prostaglandin. A final visit is to verify the completeness of the process.
Depending on the length of pregnancy, the fetus may be expelled after the first, second or third visit. Imagine the anguish of a woman unprepared for the sight of what her body has discharged. This is only one of the negatives involved with this procedure that NARAL is so thrilled about.
Some women do not abort quickly and spend days cramping, bleeding and feeling uncomfortable, not knowing when it will be over. In some cases, women who have not expelled the entire fetal material may need to undergo a surgical dilation and curettage (d&c) to scrap any fetal remainder from the womb. Notice how I have successfully avoided the use of the term ``baby.''
In addition, what assurance do any of these women have that taking ru-486 will not leave them barren or cause fetal damage in future wanted pregnancies? Sorry about that, lady. That kind of research takes many years to determine but the FDA has already approved this drug so the risk is all yours. There is also the very real danger that should a pregnancy be ectopic (i.e., the fetus is developing within a fallopian tube), use of this procedure may prove fatal.
In their political haste to bring ru-486 to America, choice advocates have disregarded the scientific prudence that has always safeguarded women. So who will bear the responsibility when things go wrong, as they must surely will? Planned Parenthood? NARAL? Guess who's been contracted to sell the drug here in the United States? According to the Associated Press, it's the Hua Lian Pharmaceutical company in China. Try suing them.
Dealing with drugs affecting the reproduction system is never a slam-dunk and things can go awry even with stringent testing and trials. After all, these drugs are designed to trick the body into unnatural behavior and the result may not always be what is expected.
For example, the Norplant was a contraceptive implant hailed as an easy birth control method but it's manufacturer ended up in litigation involving over 36,000 women claiming severe side effects ranging from migraines to depression. Additionally, this past week a Mayo Clinic study found that certain at-risk women who had used the pre-1975 oral contraceptive pill were eleven times more likely to get breast cancer.
No matter how politically correct it is to seek control over one's body, sometimes it's just not nice to fool Mother Nature.
Alicia's column archives can be found at www.aliciacolon.com
Copyright 1999-2000 by Alicia Colon. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.