The Family Research Council pressured the Food and Drug Administration that issued a report that out of 1.52 million users of “the abortion pill”, 14 women died and 2,207 women experienced adverse side effects after using the drug. The article admits that the FDA report was published in July, yet just now decided to report on it. In the article, the sensational claim that RU 486 has even more mysterious side effects that are not being reported and is being used as the current salvo to pressure the FDA into withdrawal of permissiveness of the drug and its availability. Claiming that most adverse side effects and death are not reported to the FDA, the FRC Joanne Monahan says that the pill causes bleeding and infection sometimes serious enough to require hospitalization. She goes on to ramble that Planned Parenthood, who dispenses RU 486, does not follow FDA guidelines for proper use of the drug; causing the length of time one must take the pill at the lower dosage to be over extended. She also reminds people that abortion is an invasive procedure and RU 486 is hard on women causing death.

There are many ways in which termination of pregnancy can occur. There are dilation and curettage, where the cervix is forcefully dilated using a dilator and an instrument is used to remove tissue and uterine lining. This method is also used to diagnose uterine diseases, remove excess lining and remove fibroid growths. Vacuum aspiration removes cells. Then there is RU 486 and similar drugs used outside the US which cause a termination, menses or menstrual cycle bleeding, softening of the cervix, and natural, safe expulsion of the embryonic tissue. While the first two methods are, in fact, invasive and more likely to introduce infection; RU 486 or Mifepristone is not. A concise exercise of accurate study numbers of 1.52 million users of the drug resulting in only 14 deaths and 2,207 adverse effects is clinically sound and reasonable to call the drug favorable. The problem is not the safety of the drug, the nature that it is non invasive, and the small numbers of adverse and negative effects; the problem is the “morality” to extremists and conservatives who value embryonic tissue as containing “life” or “personhood” as I discussed in a previous post. The focus remains on RU 486 as being a viable and safe means to terminate pregnancy, not an “immoral” abomination. The truth of the drugs is rather easy to glean, though heavy on medical terminology. I am very happy to translate the information into easy-to-understand references for an informed decision on the effectiveness and safety of RU 486.

The abortion pill is progesterone receptor antagonist. That means that it binds to progesterone, which is a hormone that is in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and development of the embryo. It can bind to the membrane that makes up a cell, the inside of the cell around the nucleus (cytosol) and the nucleus (center). It also has prostaglandin, which effects fatty vitamins, proteins, and the structure of the cell membrane (lipids). RU 486 disrupts the development of the zygote and embryonic cells, thus it causes termination of intrauterine (inside the uterus as opposed to ectopic pregnancies which occur in the fallopian tube or outside of the uterus) pregnancy in the 6 to 49 days of gestation. In a session, the FDA established rule, the patient is given RU 486 600mg (milligrams) after a counseling session. Two days later, Misoprostol 400 µg, to induce contractions of the uterus. Misoprostol is widely used as a prevention of NSAID induced gastric ulcers, but is also used to stimulate labor especially in the case of a missed miscarriage (the zygote or embryo is not expelled from the uterus), or early abortion. It prepares the cervix by thinning it (also called ripening) and causes uterine contractions. Another known use for Mifepristone is to halt ovulation and is used to prevent pregnancy if taken before ovulation (2mg daily, not 1mg). Tests of the drug in animals did not cause gene mutation to occur that would cause damage to recipient.

Interesting enough, of the 14 deaths that were attributed to RU 486 by, eight were due to sepsis (inflammation all over the body due to infection) the other six had drug abuse and suspected murder. Of the 2,207 adversely affected were: 612 non-lethal hospitalizations, 339 blood transfusions, 48 severe infections (total 999). No other details are provided for the remainder of those affected negatively by the drug. These results of 2,207 is only 0.15%. That is a very good percentage of adverse side effects considering aspirin’s adverse effects are gastrointestinal bleeding, ringing in the ears, potentially cause severe bleeding in those who have hemophilia, result in hives or other allergic reaction, and if taken in very high doses causes death (2%). There are risks no matter what drug you are taking for anything from high blood pressure to something as simple as a pain reliever. One must properly weigh the risks of taking drugs and make informed and intelligent decisions that are relevant to fact and not sensational journalism, anti-choice propaganda, and outright lies.

There are also invasive procedures that carry risks of infection, bleeding and death such as open heart surgery, appendectomy (appendix removal), amputation, delivery by cesarean (abdomen incision is made to deliver a baby) and many, many more. If one needed bypass surgery to save one’s life, I am most certain that the risks may very well outweigh the usefulness of the procedure. However, informed decisions resulting in real facts and real dangers should be presented instead of hyped information touted as “dangerous and deadly”. In essence: if one desires to get an abortion by whatever means they so desire, it should be a choice made weighing heavily on personal preference, information laden with facts, and reflection of circumstances. It should be a choice, not a forced or imposed procedure, but one that is personally made to better one’s self using safe medical procedures in a safe and sterile environment. What is good for one person may not be an option for the next person, but to cloud reason and rationality with a dazzling dance of numbers and half-truths to affect someone’s choice is morally questionable (lying is wrong) and oppressive (I shove my beliefs down your throat because what I believe is more important that what you believe or don’t believe). It forwards nothing more than a religious agenda controlling bodies they have no ownership of.