Abortion Backers Put Women at Risk, Promote RU 486 Drug Without Ultrasound

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2010   |   2:02PM   |   Washington, DC

A new study published by abortion advocates could put women’s health at risk by suggesting they do not receive an ultrasound prior to using the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug.

The mifepristone drug has already been documented to have claimed the lives of at least 13 women around the world and the European manufacturer suggests more may have died as well.

Another 1,100 women in the United States have, as of 2006 FDA figures, been injured by the abortion pill — facing everything from hospitalizations to blood transfusions to emergency surgery.

Now, Hillary Bracken of Gynuity Health Projects in New York City has published a new study suggesting an ultrasound for women before an abortion using the drug may be unneeded.

There are no official guidelines for when an ultrasound is indicated, but ultrasounds are typically performed to ensure there’s not an ectopic pregnancy and to determine fetal age so the abortion drug is used within the window when it is considered most “safe” — at around seven to nine weeks of pregnancy.

Bracken, according to a Reuters report, tested to determine whether a woman’s estimate of her last menstrual period and a physical exam were enough to determine whether the abortion drug is appropriate instead of a surgical abortion.

The study, published in the obstetrics journal BJOG, covered 4,484 women seeking the abortion pill at 10 different abortion centers, including 8 run by Planned Parenthood — where many of the women using the abortion drug in California died after receiving improper instructions on its usage.

The study asked women to estimate their last menstrual period and then featured an ultrasound to determine the age of the baby. It found 1.6 percent of women would have been given the abortion drug after nine weeks of pregnancy had estimates been relied on instead of an ultrasound examination.

All of the women in that group were within 11 weeks of their last period, meaning the drug could still work but also that the percentage chance it would fail — and perhaps leave parts of the unborn child inside the mother’s uterus requiring a surgical abortion — would increase.

“Any reduction in efficacy would be gradual,” Bracken told Reuters in an attempt to dismiss the concerns.

Ultimately, she said women should “feel safe” about using the abortion drug without an ultrasound examination.

But Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America, told LifeNews.com Winikoff is a “radical abortion promoter” whose goal is to expand the use of the abortion drug to rural areas and other countries.

“Her primary goal is making abortion easy to get, despite how dangerous her methods may be to women’s health, and consistently advocates for dropping safety precautions,” she said.

Wright said ultrasound is a key component of women using the abortion drug and depriving them of the examination puts their health at risk.

“Bypassing this important procedure merely to cut costs is like avoiding a safety test on a space rocket. It may save money up front, but can cost people their lives,” she said. “Gynuity is showing, once again, the callousness of the abortion industry. Pro-lifers need to recognize this on-going threat and press for more protections for women and babies.”

The study involved a question during the physical examination designed to determine if an ectopic pregnancy is present. Some 32 women were flagged as potentially having one and 11 had either an ectopic or molar pregnancy. [related]

Yet Bracken admitted to Reuters that the study was not an attempt to determine if non-ultrasound screening can determine an ectopic pregnancy — meaning women whose lives would be threatened by the usage of the abortion drug in such a situation may be missed if abortion centers no longer use ultrasounds. With two percent of pregnancies in the United States ectopic, that should present women significant worry.

Wright explained that “RU-486 does not end an ectopic pregnancy and an undetected ectopic pregnancy can kill both the mother and the baby.”

Gene Rudd, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the associate director of the Christian Medical Association, has previously expressed concern that the FDA didn’t require an ultrasound exam with the use of the abortion drug.

“The symptoms that may indicate serious and life-threatening problems after taking this drug are difficult even for some physicians to recognize, much less for a patient to have to figure out at home,” Rudd explained.

“The FDA belatedly emphasizes that ‘health care providers should be vigilant for patients with undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies as this condition may be missed by physical examination and ultrasound,’” Dr. Rudd explained.

“The truth is that ultrasound does actually help diagnose ectopic pregnancies in many cases, yet the agency decided to drop its initial requirements for ultrasound after politicians knocked on their door,” Rudd added.