Five Ways to Halt the Advance of the RU 486 Abortion Drug

National   |   Randy O'Bannon Ph.D.   |   Apr 26, 2013   |   10:28AM   |   Washington, DC

Riding the crest of a wave of carefully manufactured abortion industry hype and avoiding the scrutiny of any substantive honest media investigation, the “new and improved” abortion by pill method has cornered a significant portion of the American abortion market and paved the way for the spread of chemical abortions around the world.  Its expansion is strong and far-reaching, but not inevitable.  Here are a few ways to halt the advance of chemical abortion in the U.S. and in countries far and wide.

Strategy 1: Tell the Truth about the Baby

The first and fundamental argument advanced by abortion’s advocates is to try to deny the humanity of the unborn child, to claim that he or she is nothing but an undifferentiated “blob of tissue,” something that can be clipped off or cut out and tossed in the trash like a fingernail or an inflamed appendix.

As mentioned in one of the stories written last week (see https://nrlc.cc/11kodQp), efforts to revive this thoroughly discredited argument were a specific part of the strategy behind the development and promotion of RU-486, the abortion pill, which is, in fact, a two-drug technique.  It was clear from the decline in the number of surgical abortions and abortion rates that something was causing many women to turn away from abortion. Thus the lure of a new product, a new chemical abortion method, like RU-486, for the Abortion Industry.

Efforts to push chemical abortions were not only a way to promote a new method that could enable women to avoid surgery (another concern of women), but also to abort earlier in pregnancy when babies were smaller and less developed.   The hope was that this would help those who were uncomfortable with abortion be more willing to accept it.

To counter this, pro-lifers will need to emphasize that from the moment of conception, the unborn child is not some “blob of tissue,” but a marvel of purposeful complexity.

Right away, from the moment sperm joins egg and there is a new genetic code unique to that new individual. The child’s DNA initiates the rapid growth, differentiation, and specialization that quickly go on to form the layers that will  give rise to the brain, nervous system, skin, digestive system, muscles, bones, and circulatory system. All are intricate in their design, all bearing the signature genetic imprint and developmental nuances that belongs to that special person alone. (Even among genetic twins, there are differences.)

The child’s heart is already beating when the child is just three weeks old, before many women even realize they are pregnant or consider a chemical abortion.  Features such as the head, spinal cord and arm buds become visible during the time frame where these abortions are supposed to be performed.

Ignoring the government protocol, many in the abortion industry are adding at least two weeks to the recommended cut-off date for RU-486 abortions. It is during this additional two weeks that fingers are appearing and brain waves are showing up on EEGs and  babies begin moving around.

Women who’ve had these abortions encounter children much more developed than they may have expected. They speak of seeing “tiny fists” and “dark spots like eyes” and “a little skeleton not quite formed.”

To combat the revived “blob of tissue” propaganda, pro-lifers need to share the facts above and continue to make the argument that neither one’s size nor age nor stage of development determines one’s value or humanity, that our individual identities and our biological lives encompass the whole span of our existence from conception to natural death.

Strategy 2: Tell the Truth about RU-486 and the other Abortifacients

The abortion industry carefully cultivated an image of abortion pill, RU-486, as some nearly magic pill that practically makes the baby disappear. They present the chemical method as a safe, simple, easy method that avoids all the risks and indignities of surgical abortion.

The truth is far different.

Chemical abortions with RU-486 are complicated, tedious, painful, and risky.

First-trimester surgical abortions are completed in a matter of minutes. But  abortions using drugs such RU-486 (mifepristone) and the second drug (a prostaglandin) take days, maybe a week or more.  They employ at least two drugs, are supposed to involve three trips to the doctor’s office over a two week period, and typically come with a great deal of pain, bleeding, and a host of other unpleasant side effects.  There is a significant chance they will not work.  Nineteen women taking it have ended up dead and over 600 have ended up in the hospital.

RU-486 works by blocking the effect of progesterone, the pregnancy hormone that signals the woman’s body that she is pregnant and makes sure her reproductive system is set to welcome and nurture the young child.  With that signal stymied, the baby’s life support system shuts down. The baby starves to death, and the woman’s body, failing to recognize the child’s presence, initiates the shedding of the rich nutrient lining of the uterus the way it does during the normal menstrual process when there is no baby present.

By itself, though, RU486 is not always powerful enough to expel the tiny corpse.  A second drug, a prostaglandin such as misoprostol, is given to stimulate powerful uterine contractions to expel the child and complete the abortion.  It is intensely painful and often very bloody.

Few women realize that a woman loses more blood from a chemical abortion than a surgical one. And the pain and cramping can go on for hours, and the bleeding can go on for weeks.  Side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are often part of the package.

This is obviously not the magic abortion pill women have read about in the women’s magazines.

The abortion industry has tried tinkering with the protocol to reduce the costs and the number of office visits. But the process, if it works, will still be painful, bloody, and drawn out.  They have tried extending the deadline past the seven weeks LMP (after a woman’s last menstrual period), but this reduced “effectiveness” in trials of the drug—that is, leading to more incomplete abortions.

So-called “Web-cam abortions,” where the pills are dispensed remotely via videoconference with an abortionist who is not present, leaves the woman to find help on her own if she begins to hemorrhage or has some other complication.

As a consequence of these changes, the drugs may prove not just less effective, but more dangerous.

A number of women hemorrhage, some die.  More than half a dozen women died after contracting rare bacterial infections. At least two patients died from ruptured ectopic pregnancies that were apparently not detected in the original examination and screening. (For more details on some of the deaths, see the NRL Factsheet “Deaths Associated with RU-486″ herewww.nrlc.org/Factsheets/FS15_pilldanger.pdf)

The normal chemical abortion process is ordinarily so arduous, so painful, so bloody that both patients and doctors can easily fail to recognize the signs of something more serious, such as a deadly infection or a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

RU-486 is no wonder drug and these abortions are not the walk in the park their promoters have made them out to be.

And, despite the new packaging, these are still abortions, and they still take the life of a unique, precious unborn child.

So tell women the truth about these chemical abortions. The more people know what these abortions are really like, the less they’ll like them.

Strategy 3: Tell the Truth about Alternatives to Abortion

One of the most significant revelations to come out of the 2004 Guttmacher survey on why women have abortions were the disclosures that in the midst of all the reasons given for their abortions, interviewees in the focus groups indicated that “abortion was not something they desired.”

Elaborating, authors Lawrence B. Finer, Lori F. Frohwirth, Lindsay A. Dauphinee, Susheela Singh, and Ann M. Moore wrote that, given their circumstances, these women “saw not having a child as their best (and sometimes only) option.” [1] Many women choose abortion not because it is what they want, but because they feel like it is their only realistic option.

And they aren’t likely to hear anything that different from the “counselors” at the abortion clinic.

Life can be very tough for a young, single mother who is lacking a supportive boyfriend, perhaps struggling to care for other young children while trying to hold down a job, or is even unemployed.  But there are people, found all over America, in communities large and small, ready and willing to help, who can enable a woman to avoid the option she says she does not want.

While many women are unaware of their existence, there are over 3,000 local pregnancy care centers scattered across the United States. They are staffed by a combination of professionals and trained volunteers who can give women the practical assistance and personal support that can make a life preserving option not only possible, but realistic.

Those centers offer a range of services, including not only free pregnancy tests and a listening ear, but baby food, clothes and furniture, help in finding a place to live, assistance with budgeting and job training, parenting classes, and help accessing community and government services.  Many centers have arrangements with local physicians to offer prenatal and pediatric care free or at a reduced rates, and some centers even offer medical care on site.

This is in addition to the range of help that churches, neighbors, friends, family, and other concerned individuals will offer when presented with a need and given opportunity to help.

A woman’s circumstances can be dire, but never need reach the point where she feels killing her own flesh and blood is her only option.  It is hardly a commitment to “choice” if all the abortion clinic offers is a “choice” between surgical and chemical abortion.

Given encouragement, given opportunity, a lot of women will choose life for themselves and for their babies.

Strategy 4: Pass Protective Legislation

Both sound medical and legal judgment were obviously ignored when the U.S. government agency devoted to insuring the safety and effectiveness of healing medications approved a drug whose design and sole purpose was killing human beings. But that does not mean that there are not legal means to try to limit use of the drug and protect women, and thus many of their unborn children, from the abortion industry which habitually cuts corners the way it has with the two-drug chemical abortion technique, RU-486.

Right after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of RU-486 in September of 2000, the abortion industry offered its own alternative to the protocol recommended by the FDA. They cut the dosage of the expensive RU-486 pills ($90 apiece) from three to one, doubled the dose of the cheaper prostaglandin misoprostol (only a dollar or so a pill), had women take the prostaglandin at home rather than return to the office, and had them self-administer the misoprostol vaginally instead of by mouth, as recommended.

Beyond all that they expanded the use of the drugs to women up to 63 days LMP (nine weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period), rather than seven weeks (49 days LMP) as indicated by the FDA protocol.

(The recommended dosages, timing, and methods of administration were the result of numerous studies looked at by the FDA. U.S. trials indicated that there was a steep drop off in “effectiveness” the later RU-486 was used.)

When women began contracting a rare bacteria that caused more than a half dozen RU-486 patients to die, even some in the industry speculated that it might be due to the at-home vaginal administration of the misoprostol, a protocol variation used by many abortion “providers.”  It was also noticeable that of the early “adverse event reports,” a great number of those complications were among women who had taken the drug past the 49 day cut off in the FDA protocol.

As it stands, once a drug has been approved by the FDA, any licensed doctor can use that drug as he or she sees fit.  If they do something too off the wall, the run the risk of lawsuit. But when there are doctors publishing studies asserting the safety and effectiveness of alternative protocols; and when there is an organization like the National Abortion Federation endorsing and promoting those variant protocols, the doctors usually find themselves on steady legal ground.

CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!

 

Several states have sought, at a minimum, to make the FDA protocol mandatory.  States such as Arizona, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma have passed such laws, though enforcement of Oklahoma’s and North Dakota’s laws have been blocked by the courts.

Of great concern to pro-lifers is the proliferation of so-called ”web-cam abortions,” which take the use of chemical abortions to a whole new level.  These abortions make a mockery of the FDA recommendation that these abortions be performed “under the supervision” of the physician.

By using videoconferencing, the abortionist can be hundreds of miles away “interacting” with his patient only over a web cam.  If he looks at her records and is satisfied with the answers she gives to a few basic questions, the abortionist clicks a mouse triggering the release of a drawer at the woman’s location which contain the abortion pills.

He never physically examines the woman and there is no guarantee that anyone at the woman’s location has any formal medical training or experience.  If there are complications, she can look for her nearest emergency room, which may be miles away.

These risky abortions can and have been addressed by laws requiring that the abortionist be physically present in the same room before dispensing the abortion pills. Laws such as these have been passed in several states, including Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma (this part of the law still in effect), South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, National Right to Life’s Director of State Legislation has been instrumental in getting many of these web-cam abortion bans passed. “Abortion already is an impersonal, assembly-line procedure, where the ‘doctor-patient relationship’ is essentially non-existent,” she said. “The abortion industry’s emphasis on efficiency and profit make a mockery of any claim that abortion is a ‘decision between a woman and her doctor.’ Usually a mother doesn’t see the abortionist until she is on the operating table. The practice of web-cam abortions takes the impersonal, assembly-line nature of abortion to a new low.”

Where these laws are passed, many mothers and their babies may be spared the horrors of chemical abortions.  Even where such legislation is considered, the public’s eyes are opened to the gruesome and grueling reality of these “magic abortion pills.”

America’s women and the children they carry in their wombs will not be totally safe until legal protection is restored for the unborn. But until that day comes, laws like these can save a lot of lives.

Strategy 5: Reverse Roe, Restore Respect for Human Life

If RU-486 were pulled from the market tomorrow, women’s lives would, for the immediate future, be safer and more unborn lives would be spared. However everyone knows that ultimately, the lives of women and their unborn children will only be safe when Roe is overturned, full legal protection is restored for the unborn, and our culture once again respects and values all human life.

Without that fundamental change, there might be a lull in the killing, but it will be only a matter of time before the abortion industry merely turns its attention to the development and promotion of another abortifacient drug.

Many forget that before RU-486 (mifepristone), there was methotrexate, an anti-cancer drug that abortionists used to target the quickly growing cells of the early embryo or fetus.  Owing to concerns about toxicity and others complications, use of methotrexate was largely abandoned once RU-486 was approved, but the import was clear.  If the abortion industry can’t use one drug, it will find another.

Even today, there are efforts to promote the use of misoprostol – the drug normally used in tandem with RU-486 – as a standalone abortifacient, especially in countries where RU-486 is not legal or abortion itself is outlawed.  Misoprostol, a prostaglandin, has other non-abortifacient uses, e.g., as an anti-ulcer medication, making it a more widely approved, and more widely available medication.

Such pills are easy to obtain on the black market, and unscrupulous doctors could easily write prescriptions for fictional maladies to get the pills into the hands of women who think they want them.

Other chemical methods are certainly in the works.

Not only are they deadly for the unborn child, they will also likely still be dangerous for the mother. But as long as abortion is legal and, to some extent, socially acceptable, the abortion industry will continue to look for new ways to package and sell its lethal product.

This does not mean that all our efforts are for naught, though.  The education we do on fetology and the dangers of these drugs, the practical assistance offered to mothers in unintended pregnancies, the laws we pass will all bear fruit, changing many hearts, saving many lives.

But full protection will only come, as former president George W. Bush said, on “the day when every child is welcomed in life, and protected in law.”

It will take convincing, by word and deed and example, of the soundness of our case and the sincerity of our love for unborn children and their mothers. It will require sacrifices of time, and sweat and dollars, as we put our words into action.  It will necessitate us showing our culture once again how to appropriately honor and support motherhood and it will take more men shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood.

It will take the election of men and women of character and conviction, who will stand up for the cause of life, and vote for judges who recognize the fundamental right to life that was part of our nation’s foundation and grounds all our other rights.

It will not be easy to overturn Roe, to overturn years of legal fables and social conventions designed to institutionalize the indefensible, but it is by no means impossible.  Even while the world changes around us, Americans have never become entirely comfortable with the practice of abortion on demand.  They know there’s something quite not right about it.

And the more they find out what abortion is really about–whether from abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s “House of Horrors,” or from the families of women who lost their lives after taking the abortion pill–the more they’ll decide that abortion is not the answer to a pregnant mother’s problems and not something that we, as a civilized society, can continue to tolerate.

When they see that life and death are the only two real choices, most of them will choose life.

[1] (See, “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives,” Perspectives in Sexual and Reproductive Health, Vol. 37, No. 3 (September 2005), at www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.html).

LifeNews.com Note: Randall O’Bannon, Ph.D., is the director of education and research for the National Right to Life Committee. This column originally appeared at NRL News Today.