|"It is vital that US women understand that some international women's groups
have been far more critical of chemical abortion than have their US counterparts."
Professors Renate Klein, Lynette Dumble and Janice Raymond,
self-described "feminists" and co-authors of RU-486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals
Women aren't hearing all the facts
© 1993 Diane S. Dew in The Standard
"Principles of Abortion Care," pg 33
|Women aren't hearing all the facts on RU-486, according to many feminists, and some say use of the abortifacient "constitutes a new form of medical violence that endangers women's lives and violates their right to be free from bodily
"Complications from the controversial French abortion pill RU-486 could be more widespread than currently reported," researcher Meredeth Turshen, PhD, an associate professor of community health at Rutgers University, told the American Public Health Association meeting in October 1990.(2)
For example, the pill's 4% failure rate is twice that of vacuum aspiration, Turshen told American Medical News Oct 26, 1990.
Further, bleeding may persist for up to 40 days, she says, and dilatation and curettage is required in a number of cases.
"These are serious problems to consider," she said.
Dr. Turshen examined the research findings of French studies, in which 50% of patients using RU-486 suffered complications ranging anywhere from nausea to bleeding for up to 40 days. (Studies conducted by researchers affiliated with Roussel-Uclaf, the French firm licensing the product, had reported side effects in only 1% to 2% of women using the pill.(3))
One death has been reported, supposedly from the prostaglandin (PG) administered with mifepristone. And three women have suffered heart attacks. Numerous others have had to undergo blood transfusions, or dilatation and curettage, to remove remaining placental fragments.
Further, fetuses that survived chemical abortion were severely deformed. And since RU-486 is ineffective in terminating tubal ectopic pregnancies, the bleeding may lead a woman to believe her fetus has been expelled. This could prove fatal.
Privacy concerns Turshen also expressed concern about matters of privacy. Abortion with RU-486 is a lengthy procedure (three to five visits required) that cannot be kept confidential, she said. The patient cannot plan where the fetus will be expelled -- in the office, in the hospital, or at home.
On the other hand, if complications develop, she may bleed to death in the "privacy" of her own home.
Nevertheless, the side effects of mifepristone are being dismissed as insignificant, and the public are led to believe RU-486 is "safe and efficient."(4)
In fact, RU-486 (which does not prevent but terminates pregnancy) is being referred to as a "contraceptive," "a promising new method of birth control."(5)
Surgical abortion: suddenly unsafe? It is remarkable that, while proabortionists have for years attempted to present traditional abortion as "safe and legal," suddenly, faced with the possible introduction of the new Kill Pill, conventional abortion procedures are being referred to as "surgical," and unsafe. The Lancet Dec 15, 1990 stated: "... supporters of abortion rights will counter that the withholding of the product ... denies women safe and effective medical treatment."
Violence toward women Professors Renate Klein, Lynette Dumble and Janice Raymond, in The Network News Sept-Oct 1992, made some strong arguments against the safety of RU-486.
RU-486 "constitutes a new form of medical violence that endangers women's lives and violates their right to be free from bodily harm," they wrote.
"We are concerned about the uncritical and biased presentation of RU-486 ... in the US," they said, adding, "We do not need a drug cocktail fraught with unknown consequences."
"The push for RU-486/PG abortion by women's groups in the US is in direct contrast to international feminist opinion. The Sixth International Women's Health Meeting, held in the Philippines in Nov.1990, issued a resolution opposing the introduction of RU-486/PG especially in developing countries. The FINRRAGE International Conference in Brazil opposed the worldwide introduction of RU-486/PG abortion."
The authors, self-described "feminists" affiliated with the International Network FINRRAGE, co-authored RU-486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals (Spinilex Press, Australia; MIT, Cambridge $10.95).
They have charged that the Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers "does not recognize the same dangers inherent in RU-486/PG abortion and instead welcomes chemical abortion as a new 'choice' for women."
Surgical abortion is safer than RU-486/PG abortion, they argue, because it involves less drug use.
Further, RU-486 can have serious adverse effects on a woman's future health, they pointed out. The exposure of immature eggs to RU-486 may affect a woman's fertility, they explained, since the drug is now known to remain in the body for up to two weeks.
"RU-486 causes delay in follicular maturation and disturbs periodicity," they noted.
Comparing bleeding from an RU-486-induced abortion to that of surgical abortion, as some have, "trivializes" a situation that may, indeed, "jeopardize a woman's life," they said.
"Furthermore, to say that the one death and the cardiovascular accidents could have been avoided," they argue, "is incorrect. PG-induced cardiovascular complications cannot be predicted, as evidenced by the death ... of a 26-year-old woman in California who had no prior history of cardiac or neurological disorder."
The death rate from RU-486 (one per 100,000) is twice that of traditional abortion in the US. And "the vast majority of these (RU-486) abortions were performed under strict trial conditions," they said. "Accidents are more likely to happen in its less controlled general use."
The authors also compared the failure rate of surgical abortion (3%) to RU-486-induced abortion (4% to 6%). The grave difference, they say, lies in the fact that "conventional abortion can be made safe whereas, because of the nature of these drugs once they have entered a woman's body, the risks of chemical abortion defy control."
Problems may also result from the need for the additional, required visits, the authors point out, as they must take place at a clinic in which resuscitation equipment is available.
"In light of significant numbers of spontaneous abortions (30% of fertilized eggs), we question whether the current 93-95% success rate of chemical abortion is not a considerably inflated figure!" they said.
"Given the ease of RU-486/PG administration for medical personnel," they say, "it is not too far-fetched to imagine a future where RU-486/PG would be the only available abortion method ... either through legislation or lack of skilled personnel to perform conventional abortions. An Australian gynecologist has already called surgical abortion "obsolete." This would mean reduced, rather than expanded choices for women.
"However, the American media continue to promote its acceptance in the US, and paint opponents of the pill as unreasonable in their reservations.
Side effects "Fifty to 60% of women suffer some complication during RU-486/PG abortion in well-controlled trials in predominantly western countries."(6) [See sidebar for specific complications and side effects.]
That 1% of patients (18 of 2,040) in a controlled setting required a blood transfusion is not insignificant. With 1.6 million abortions in the US every year, 1% is not an insignificant few. That would be 16,000 women per year -- hardly "safe."
And this is in addition to the 16,000 (1%: 20 of 2,040) in whom the drug failed to interrupt pregnancy -- resulting in fetal deformity!
Any procedure that would require 2.1% (33,600 US women annually(29) to undergo a second procedure, a surgical abortion, because their RU-486 abortion was incomplete, is far from "effective."
Supporters of RU-486 cite the following as benefits:
Drug of choice
While proaborts for years have attempted to present traditional abortion as "safe and legal," suddenly, faced with the possible introduction of RU-486, conventional abortion procedures are being referred to as "surgical," and unsafe.
Foundations that have worked to bring RU-486 to the US
Who has funded the Population Council's research on RU-486?
To contact Mr. Buffett:
The Buffett Foundation
(1) R Klein, L Dumble and J Raymond, The Network News, Sept-Oct 92 p 1
(2) Amer Med News Oct 26 90 p 8
(3) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 89
(4) World Pharm News June 14 91; Amer Fam Phys Sept 90; New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90; Law, Med & Health Care Fall 92
(5) Los Angeles Times Oct 8 92; The Lancet Dec 15 90; World Pharm News June 14 91; Maclean's Oct 19 92; Law Med & Health Care Fall 92
(6) Network News Sept-Oct 92
(7) Amer Fam Phys Sept 90
(8) Med Ltr on Drugs & Therapeutics Dec 14 90 p 112
(9) Without PG, however, the drug's failure rate is 20%.
(10) Amer Med News Oct 26 90
(11) Med Ltr on Drugs & Ther Dec 14 90 The mean duration is 8.9 days, according to the Amer Fam Phys Sept 90. However, data from the UK indicate "very heavy bleeding" in 9% of patients.
(12) Amer Med News Oct 26 90
(13) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90
(14) Amer Fam Phys Sept 90 p 781
(15) Med Ltr on Drugs & Ther Dec 14 90
(16) Network News Sept-Oct 92
(17) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90; Amer Fam Phys Sept 90; Lancet Sept 21 91
(18) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90
(19) Amer Jour of Ob & Gyn Aug 90 p 543; Amer Fam Phys Sept 90
(20) Amer Jour of Ob & Gyn Aug 90
(21) Amer Fam Phys Sept 90; Amer Jour of Ob & Gyn Aug 90. In the case of a 27-year-old with simultaneous pregnancies in the uterus and ovary, the uterine pregnancy was ended but the fertilized egg implanted in the fallopian tubes survived the abortion and had to be surgically removed. (When beta human chorionic gonadotropin remained elevated after the abortion, the second pregnancy was discovered."
(22) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90
(23) Amer Fam Phys Sept 90
(24) Amer Jour of Ob & Gyn Apr 90 p 91 One study seemed to tindicate a correlation between body weight and abortion failure.
(25) Amer Fam Phys Sept 90
(26) Network News Sept-Oct 92
(27) Amer Fam Phys Sept 90; Med Ltr on Drugs & Ther Dec 14 90
(28) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90; med Ltr on Drugs & Ther Dec 14 90
(29) 2.1% of 1.6 million US abortions annually
(30) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90
(32) Lancet May 26 90 p 1238
(33) Med World News Apr 91 p 47
(34) Lancet May 26 90
(35) JAMA Apr 3 91 and Oct 16 91; Med World News Apr 91; New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90; New Scientist Nov 3 90; Maclean's Oct 19 92 p 64; New York Times Dec 26 91 p A18; Edell Health Ltr Nov 91 p 2
(36) The Standard Apr 6 93; etc.
(37) Amer Jour of Ob & Gyn Aug 90 p 540.37
(38) World Pharm News June 14 91
(39) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90; Med World News Apr 91
(40) New Eng Jour of Med Mar 89
(41) Glamour Dec 92 p 161
(42) Milwaukee Journal Sept 28 89 (The New Eng Jour of Med Mar 8 90 quoted a percentage of 25%.)
(43) Lancet Dec 15 90; JAMA Apr 3 91
(44) Lancet Dec 15 90
(45) Milwaukee Journal Apr 9 90
(46) JAMA Apr 3 91
(47) Law, Med & Health Care Fall 92 p 157-160; JAMA Apr 3 91
(48) National Guide to Funding for Women & Girls, The Foundation Center
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