RU486 is an abortion drug that was introduced into New Zealand in 2001 by the pro-abortion company, Istar of which Margaret Sparrow is a board member. It is used as an abortifacient in the first two months of pregnancy. It is not to be used later than the ninth week after the start of the last menstrual period. After the 63rd day the drug becomes less effective and the side effects more severe. It is considered to be 98% effective in killing the unborn baby.
The drug was invented by Dr. Etienne-Emily Baulieu in France in 1980. He stated at the time that using the drug was not a simple procedure and was,
- "an appalling psychological ordeal for women."
(because she has to live with her abortion process for a week, or longer).
It was approved for use in France in Sept 1988, but withdrawn for a period because of anti-abortion action. RU486 was its designation at the Roussell Uclaf company which designed the drug. It is also marketed under trade names Mifegyne and Mifeprex.
Some advocate that it is an important option for women who want to avoid surgery or who desire an abortion at a very early stage of pregnancy before surgical abortion is medically feasible. Some compare it to having “a natural miscarriage”. But it is not natural, and this covers up what is truly happening. Pro-lifers are concerned that women in crisis pregnancy will feel pressured to opt for RU486, without enough time to consider other options such as keeping the baby or open adoption.
Side effects of a medical abortion can include extensive bleeding, cramping, fever, viral infection, vaginitis, endometritis (inflammation of the uterine lining), continued pain, nausea and vomiting. On average, women experience varying degrees of bleeding for 8-9 days. But 9% of women in US trials bled for over 30 days. Death can occur. There have been 12 reported deaths in USA, e.g. Holly Patterson, California, who died from septic shock Sept 2003.
There have been over 1200 complications, many life threatening, resulting from the use of this drug. The long term effects on women’s health are unknown. One effect of the drugs combination is to suppress immune system response. Women are left with a lifetime of sorrow, regret, grief, spiritual, physical and psychological damage.
While many people focus solely on RU-486 (Mifepristone or Mifeprex), the so-called “French abortion pill,” the RU-486 technique actually uses two powerful synthetic hormones with the generic names of mifepristone and misoprostol (or other chemicals called prostaglandins) to chemically induce abortions in women five to nine weeks pregnant.
The RU-486 procedure requires at least three trips to the abortion facility. In the first visit, the woman is given a physical exam, and if she has no obvious contra-indications (”health conditions” such as smoking, asthma, high blood pressure, obesity, etc., that could make the drug deadly to her), she takes the RU-486 pills. RU-486 blocks the action of progesterone, the natural hormone vital to maintaining the rich nutrient lining of the uterus. The developing baby is disrupted from his or her habitat and starves as the nutrient lining disintegrates.
At a second visit 36 to 48 hours later, the woman is given a dose of artificial prostaglandins, usually misoprostol, which initiates uterine contractions and usually causes the embryonic baby to be expelled from the uterus. Most women abort during the 4-hour waiting period at the clinic, but about 30% abort later at home, work, etc., as many as 5 days later. A third visit about 2 weeks later determines whether the abortion has occurred or a surgical abortion is necessary to complete the procedure (5 to 10% of all cases).
The synthetic agent, a poison, acts by blocking the hormone progesterone which enables the baby to remain implanted in the mother’s womb and to be nourished. The embryo’s bond to the uterus breaks down, halting foetal development. 1-3 days later a second drug, prostaglandin, is administered. This synthetic hormone causes the cervix to soften and dilate and the uterus to contract, expelling the foetus. Usually this occurs within four hours. Many women expel at home, see the foetus and are shocked to see how developed it is.
The proper use of the drug requires three visits to a physician or clinic over a period of about 15 days. This compares to the one-step surgical procedure.
Introduction into New Zealand
In NZ its use was approved by the Minister of Health, Annette King, in August 2001. It is already being administered in Auckland and Christchurch. Dame Margaret Sparrow is an Honorary Vice President and life member of the Family Planning Assoc. She is also a share holder and director of Istar Ltd, the sole importer of RU486. She supports the application by Family Planning to the Abortion Supervisory Committee for a licence to perform medical abortions at its Hamilton clinic.