Abortion rights advocates have long expressed their outrage over women’s deaths due to illegal back-alley abortions.
So where are feminist outcries of shock and dismay over fatalities related to use of RU-486, the “safe” and legal abortion pills?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently reported that one more women died after taking these pills to end pregnancies (initially, they reported two such deaths, then cleared the drug in one of them). That brings the RU-486 U.S. fatality total up to six since FDA approval of the abortion pills in September of 2000.
“To put this [six RU-486 deaths]
in context … 560,000 medication abortions have occurred in the
Dr. Cullins ought to try telling that one to the families of the deceased.
Monty and Helen Patterson put one
of the fatalities in the context a lost child. The Pattersons
lost their 18-year-old daughter one week after she swallowed her first dose of
abortion pills at the
Another RU-486 fatality came in
the context of a dead wife, Hoa Thuy
Tran, for Charlie Nguyen, and a dead mother for their 5-year-old daughter
Destiny. Tran, who was a teaching student, began taking her abortion medicine
at the Planned Parenthood clinic in
Tran’s family has since filed
lawsuits against Planned Parenthood of Orange and
Some members of the U.S. House of Representatives have put RU-486 in the context of H.R. 1079 or “Holly’s Law,” a bill named after Holly Patterson. This proposed legislation would force the FDA to pull RU-486 off the market.
It’s about time.
Abortion rights advocates have long packaged the abortion pill as a quick, neat and tidy way to end an unwanted pregnancy. Yet taking RU-486 is a complicated process that involves several appointments with the abortion provider and ingestion of two or more drugs, including painkillers, over the course of several days.
Oftentimes — as in both Holly Patterson’s and Hoa Thuy Tran’s cases — the second dose of abortion pills is self-administered at home where a woman might see the lifeless tiny body that marks the end of her pregnancy. Even if such a sight does not bother her, a woman who chooses medicated abortion must physically endure pain, possible intense cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with heavy and unrelenting bleeding.
Because doctors and clinicians anticipate these side effects of RU-486, they sometimes miss or misdiagnose maternal-life threatening conditions like deadly reproductive system infections or ruptured ectopic pregnancies, and women die.
Even if RU-486 does not kill a woman, it can be detrimental to her health.
From September 2000 through July 2005, the FDA received close to 900 “Adverse Event Reports” detailing serious RU-486-related complications from doctors, women who chose abortion pills to end pregnancies, and Danco Laboratories LLC.
A study of 600 of these reports, published in the February 2006 edition of The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, found a number of health hazards in the choice of RU-486.
Obstetrician/gynecologists Margaret Gary and Donna Harrison discovered that the most common RU-486 complications were hemorrhage, infection and ruptured ectopic pregnancy. Other problems included: heart attack, pulmonary embolism, pancreatitis, allergic reactions and pregnancies that were not “successfully” aborted.
If abortion rights advocates really care about “reproductive health” as they claim, they will support “Holly’s Law” and stop playing RU-486 roulette with women’s lives.
Marybeth T. Hagan is the author of Abortion:
A Mother’s Plea for Maternity and
the Unborn (Liguori/Triumph publication).