Study Examines Best Use of Misoprostol Abortion Drug, Still Unsafe for Women

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 13, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study Examines Best Use of Misoprostol Abortion Drug, Still Unsafe for Women Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 13
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — A new study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, examines the best usage of the drug misoprostol in causing abortions. However, a leading pro-life researcher says that the ulcer pill, even at its most effective rates, destroys the life of an unborn child and causes medical problems for women.

Abortion advocates have repeatedly come under fire in various places around the world for misusing the misoprostol drug, which is intended to treat ulcers, to cause abortions when the standard RU 486 abortion pill is unavailable.

In addition to killing an unborn child, the misoprostol drug is not as effective as the abortion pill and can often result in more complications for both women and unborn children who survive incomplete abortions.

When used normally, RU 486 involves a two drug combination involves mifepristone, which deprives the developing newborn baby of food and water and essentially starves the child to death. The second drug, misoprostol, causes contractions to force the woman to birth the dead baby.

The study attempts to find a way to increase the effectiveness of using misoprostol alone.

Dr. Helena von Hertzen, of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization, led the study and found that taking misoprostol under the tongue at three hour intervals can make it more effective in completing the abortion but it can cause more side effects than taking the drug at 12-hour intervals.

When a woman uses the drug in the less frequent time periods, the study suggests using it vaginally.

Among women who took misoprostol at 12-hour intervals, the abortion drug failed and caused incomplete abortions for 9 percent of women who took it orally and 4 percent of those who took it vaginally. Women using misoprostol at three hour intervals saw failure rates of six and four percent respectively.

No matter what the results of the study showed, Dr. Randy O’Bannon, the research director at National Right to Life, told research on the effectiveness of misusing a drug to cause abortions is “highly irresponsible.”

“Promoters of abortion are anxious to use misoprostol because it is cheaper than other methods they’ve used like RU486 and because it may already be available for other non-abortifacient uses in countries where abortion is legal,” he said

O’Bannon says finding out the most effective usage of misoprostol doesn’t make it safer.

“If it is ‘successful,’ a child loses his or her life,” he explained. “But when it fails, as it often does, studies tell us that it may affect the development of the child, causing fused or missing fingers, toes, and other problems.”

Dr. O’Bannon also said he found it hypocritical that researchers would examine the use of any abortion drug vaginally when such usage likely contributed to the deaths of seven women from the abortion pill in the U.S. alone.

“Soon after RU486 was approved for use in the United States, the abortion industry began to promote the vaginal use of the accompanying prostaglandin, misoprostol, instead of the oral use, as the FDA recommended,” he told

“Planned Parenthood, one of the chief promoters of this deviation from FDA protocol, suddenly discontinued vaginal use in 2006 after customers of theirs died from rare infections,” he concluded. “Either the abortion industry isn’t sure which is safer or it doesn’t care.”