SAN FRANCISCO — The pro-abortion magazine Mother Jones has obtained FDA figures listing 30 cases of uterine rupture associated with the use of the drug Cytotec to induce labor in expectant mothers, including eight cases in which the unborn child died in utero.

The FDA recently approved the RU-486 chemical abortion regimen that includes use of Cytotec in the abortion process, despite objections from the drug's manufacturer that such use is unsafe.

Even though Cytotec is only FDA-approved for treating peptic ulcers rather than for inducing labor, it is now “the predominant agent of choice” for inducing labor, according to Dr. Charles Lockwood, chairman of obstetrical practices for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Mother Jones contributing writer David Goodman reported that deaths resulting from the “off-label” use of Cytotec have become the subject of several lawsuits, including two in Oregon and others in Texas and Connecticut. After being named as a defendant in a Portland, Ore., lawsuit, the drug's manufacturer, G.D. Searle Corporation, sent a letter to 200,000 healthcare providers warning them that “Cytotec administration by any route is contraindicated in women who are pregnant because it can cause abortion.”

In the RU-486 drug cocktail, Cytotec is used in combination with the drug mifepristone, which kills the unborn child. Searle noted that this off-label use of Cytotec to induce labor has resulted in reports of uterine rupture, hysterectomy, and the death of mothers and infants.

According to one informal survey, reported Mother Jones, at least a third of hospitals have restricted the use of the drug because of health and safety concerns for women, but other hospitals stand by it. Dr. Luis Sanchez-Ramos, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Florida, insists the drug is safe and told Goodman that the warning “hasn't impacted us at all.”

Critics such as Dr. Marsden Wagner, formerly with the World Health Organization, argue that doctors are using Cytotec to help fit deliveries into a daytime schedule. Wagner notes that Cytotec is not used to induce labor in Europe because of health concerns and chides American physicians for what he calls “vigilante obstetrics.”

“Whatever the drug's dangers,” concludes Goodman, “most women who receive it have no idea that it is not approved for use during pregnancy.” (Pro-Life Infonet)