(Un)Happy Birthday, RU-486: Part III – Abortion Without Limits

Like many of you, the Americans United for Life team is watching the poll results closely. At this writing, the Senate appears poised to remain in pro-life hands, and the House is set to welcome a veritable wave of pro-life members, most of them women, to its ranks, though the final count remains unknown. AUL Government Affairs Counsel Katie Glenn has this recap of races as of yesterday; we’ll have more to come in the next few days.  

In the meantime, we continue with the third installment of Americans United for Life’s reflection on a disastrous twenty years of legal chemical abortion. Today we’ll take a step back and ask a very simple question: Is it actually an “abortion pill,” as Planned Parenthood and others call it? 

The abortion industry would certainly like for you to think it’s an “abortion pill,” since that suggests a “magic pill” one-step process that’s easy and quick. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not a “pill”, but a difficult and sometimes risky medicalized process that involves two drugs, multiple consultations with medical providers (if they’re doing it as recommended) and inherent risks and potential complications. 

What we colloquially call the “chemical abortion pill” (abortion advocates prefer the term “medical abortion”) is actually a regimen of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. According to the FDA label, a woman takes mifepristone first, most often at the clinic directly from a doctor or clinician. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, resulting in a breakdown of the uterine lining, ending the pregnancy. Several hours later she then takes misoprostol at home, which causes contractions and expulsion of the deceased fetus without medical involvement or supervision. 

Thus, chemical abortion is a process, not a “pill”. It is, in fact, an artificial chemical process that may pose unknown risks to the female human body. Pro-choice activist Renata Klein and her colleagues observe in RU-486: Myths, Misconceptions, and Morals (Spinifex Press Aus. 1991): 

There appears to be an unquestioning acceptance that RU 486/PG de-medicalizes abortion, whereas the reality of RU 486/PG treatment is that it re-medicalizes, i.e. more thoroughly medicalizes, the abortion experience for women. RU 486/PG treatment is administered solely under strict medical supervision at specialized medical centres, requires three or four visits to a medical service, and can be used effectively only within 42-49 days after a woman’s last menstrual period, that is approximately 14-21 days after her first missed period. 

 And there are growing concerns over the artificial nature of this hormone. Klein reflects: 

At a time when the rest of the planet is being warned about the risks of chemical fixes, there is an enormous increase in the number and kinds of drugs that are being prescribed for women, especially in the reproductive realm. From a girl’s birth to a woman’s death, she is often prescribed fertility drugs, the pill, a new generation of anti-pregnancy vaccines that are especially being promoted in third world countries, tranquilizers, estrogen – current, hormone-replacement therapy, and now RU 486/PG, a haphazard combination of two dubious drugs…. Can we be disturbed about chemically fed plants and animals and remain unconcerned about chemically fed women? 

Next, we’ll closely examine the abortion industry’s claim that chemical abortion is an “easy” procedure.