The abortion pill

Jaki Cavins


In 1980, French biochemist Etienne-Emile Baulieu developed a chemical compound which when placed in a pill form has the ability to terminate a pregnancy. This drug is now known as the abortion pill, oftentimes called RU-486. 

By 2000, the drug had been legalized in the United States and since then, according to Medical Discoveries, an online medical server, it has become, “one of the most controversial medical breakthroughs of recent times.”

For women considering abortion, the idea of the drug might hold a strong sense of appeal when looking at it’s simple surface facts. Taking an FDA approved pill seems more convenient, less painful and more discreet than going into an actual abortion clinic.

The pill is meant to be taken within the first eight weeks of pregnancy and, according to the Planned Parenthood website, the process can be done correctly in three steps.

After consulting with a medical professional the patient is first given antibiotics and mifepristone, the first part of the drug which blocks the hormone progesterone and causes the lining of the uterus to break down.

Then 24 to 48 hours later the patient takes misoprostol, which empties out the uterus. 

This causes extreme bleeding and blood clots for the individual taking it. In most cases, the abortion is completed between five hours or at most up to a few days.

Two weeks later a follow up with a medical professional and either an ultrasound or a blood test is required, completing the FDA approved three step abortion pill process.

On paper, the drug seems like a good option in comparison to going to a clinic for a traditional abortion. According to the Planned Parenthood website the abortions are successful 97 out of 100 times.

However, as it is with many things in life, especially drugs, there are negatives to the abortion pill which cannot be overlooked.

From misuse and illegal sale of the drug to severe blood clots and even deaths of individuals who have taken it, RU-486 has become a product that is debated whether it does more harm than good.

 Since 2000 fourteen women in the U.S. have reportedly died from complications due to the pill, according to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a pro-life organization, and in many cases it has been the cause of sepsis, a dangerous blood infection. 

The risks involving the drug are apparent and this has been a large concern as the drug has been increasingly produced generically in other countries causing it to become a profitable business globally. 

Generic versions of RU-486 can be found in certain drug stores in Chine and India and is even illegally sold online, according to National Right to Life News Today, a pro-life news organization.

Danger lies even in the chance that a pregnant woman could be given the pill against her own will. 

“There are boyfriends who find out their girlfriend is pregnant, order the drugs online, have them shipped and they will sprinkle them on their girlfriends food,” said Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, a pro-life organization.

Several cases have been reported of this. A man in Florida changed the label of the abortion pill to one from a common antibiotic, giving it to his pregnant girlfriend and causing her to have a miscarriage according to ABC News. 

In another instance a man in Kaukauna,Wisconsin attempted to lace his girlfriend’s smoothie with the drug and was proven guilty of first degree homicide, according to an article done by Free Republic. 

Despite all of this many believe RU486 is a great medical achievement and stand by the effectiveness of the drug and its ability to provide women who want an abortion with a more “private” option.

The pill continues to be used legally in the U.S. frequently and with so many underlaying risks only time can determine the future status of the drug.