Italy May Approve Dangerous RU 486 Abortion Drug in a Few Months

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 17, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy May Approve Dangerous RU 486 Abortion Drug in a Few Months Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 17,

Rome, Italy ( — Italian officials may approve the use of the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug in the next few months, according to a newspaper there. The drug, also known as mifepristone, has been responsible for the deaths of 13 women worldwide and has injured more than 1,100 in the United States alone.

The Corriere della Sera newspaper reports that the French drug company Exelgyn is seeking permission to sell the abortion pill in Italy under the brand name Mifegyn.

A decision on whether to allow sales of the drug, which causes an abortion at five to seven weeks into pregnancy, could come as early as February or March.

"We have pledged to make it available (in Italy)," Health Minister Livia Turco told the paper. "It is not a political choice but an administrative act."

Turco has come under fire from pro-life advocates in Italy because she refused to stop hospital trials of the abortion drug.

In June, she toured the nation and visited hospitals like the one in Sant’Anna, which is one of the medical centers conducting the trials.

"The experiment in Sant’Anna hospital has been performed according to the 1994 law and must remain within these constraints," Turco said at the time, referring to an Italian law stating that abortion should not be used as a form of contraception.

Turco replaced former Health Minister Francesco Storace who was able to halt the RU 486 abortion drug trials temporarily.

He was able to do so, citing the law and the fact that some of the women involved in the abortion drug trials were ultimately having the abortions at home rather than in the hospitals.

In October, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech to a conference of Catholic pharmacists and said they should stand up for their right to opt out of dispensing drugs involved in abortions or euthanasia.

"It is not possible to anaesthetize the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short someone’s life," he said.

"Pharmacists must raise awareness [in the public] in order that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death, and that drugs truly play a therapeutic role," he added.

The Catholic leader urged the pharmacists to educate their customers on how various drugs work, especially those involved in the destruction of human life.

He also said they had both a religious and moral obligation to exercise their conscience rights and refuse to take part in dispensing drugs to customers that are meant to take lives.

Abortions in Italy have been declining, dropping from 234,801 abortions in 1982 to 136,715 in 2004 but pro-life advocates would like to drive that number down even further.

The abortions have helped cause an underpopulation crisis in the nation and lawmakers in the Italian parliament have considered a proposal to pay pregnant women with unplanned pregnancies to avoid abortions to boost the birth rate.