Pondering RU486

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
January 17, 2000

It is not likely that those who are pushing the chemical abortion technique RU-486 will be any more eager to fully educate the public about this procedure than they are in regard to surgical abortion. Let's take a moment, then, to pick up the slack.

* It is not completely accurate to call RU-486 an abortion "pill." It is, rather, a technique involving a combination of powerful synthetic steroids and arrangements for possible back-up surgery. RU-486 is taken in conjunction with prostaglandins, which induce uterine contractions. In countries where it is used, women must agree to have a surgical abortion in the cases where this drug technique does not succeed in aborting the baby.

* If RU-486 is permitted, it will increase the numbers of abortions and of abortion providers. The American people believe there are too many abortions as it is.

* RU-486 has been known to harm and kill women. Its long-range effects on women and their born children are still unknown. They won't be known until at least a generation has passed. The New Republic in a 1986 article said that the entire first generation of users will be the guinea pigs. We may be dealing with a chemical time-bomb.

* RU-486 has no proven purpose or benefit except to kill a developing child in the womb. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, upon investigating other claimed benefits of the drug, has said that those claims are built on very shaky scientific ground.

* RU-486 does not privatize or simplify abortion. In countries where it is used, multiple visits to the facility are required. The drug is not taken home, but administered only on the premises, where emergency medical equipment is ready to deal with side-effects. The woman must return 48 hours later to take the prostaglandin. Another visit is required to verify that the child is in fact gone.

* Where does the child go? The RU-486 process makes this an open question. The child may be expelled at any time, any place, and the mother is more likely to see her tiny, dead baby. Edouard Sakiz, as president of the Roussel-Uclaf company that made the drug, says that using it is "an appalling psychological ordeal… It is not at all easy to use."

* RU-486 will not and cannot replace all surgical abortions. One reason is that it can only be used in a small window of the pregnancy (5-7 weeks, or at most 5-9 weeks). In France, furthermore, only 25-30% of women seeking abortion choose the RU-486 method.

Let us make it clear to physicians who are willing to prescribe this technique that cases in which children are born with deformities because of failed RU-486 abortions will not go unnoticed.

One nurse who took part in RU-486 testing saw the surgical dishes with the expelled embryos, and said, "It was like looking at a little row of people...It was very upsetting...I hope I never, never have to do it again." Don't we all?

Priests for Life
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