Local News

Abortion Pill Approval a Victory for Some, Defeat for Others

Posted September 27, 2000

— For some, the approval of an abortion pill is long overdue -- for others, it is a huge concern.

FDA Approves Abortion PillFor the first time in the nation's history, the Food and Drug Administration approved a pill for abortion.

The drug, mifepristone, is called RU-486 in Europe. It will be marketed under the brand Mifeprex in the United States.

The FDA will allow the drug to be used for early pregnancies. It should be available under a doctor's prescription in about a month. Approval Aside, the Debate ContinuesColleen Leonard has a very personal reason for opposing the abortion pill -- 1-year-old Mason. Leonard adopted Mason from Russia four months ago, and she cannot imagine anyone ending a pregnancy.

"I have an issue with people who have such an easy time terminating a possible life in any way," she says.

Planned Parenthood'sAshley Novak says the drug offers women an alternative. North Carolina clinics that do not offer surgical abortions may begin offering the pill, because it does not require the same amount of personnel or equipment to administer.

The organization has been a big proponent of the FDA approving Mifeprex. With that hurdle crossed, clinics will now be deciding whether or not to offer the drug to their clients.

"It's something that our medical committee would need to review," Novak says. "Because it's just become available, it's something we'll be looking very seriously at."

While that organzation studies the pill, abortion opponents vow to fight to keep it out of their communities.

"I know that women are damaged by abortion, and this pill is nothing more than another way to make $350," says Loretta Thompson withN.C. Right to Life.

The specifics of the drug's distribution, from the price to where and how the pill will be available, are still up in the air.

Planned Parenthood says many of those decisions will be made in the next few weeks, and there seems to be no doubt that the pill will be offered somewhere in North Carolina. How the Pill WorksThere are actually two drugs involved.

The first drug, Mifeprex, blocks a hormone needed to maintain pregnancy. The second drug, misoprostol, causes the uterus to contract.

The pills must be taken within the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

Three visits to the doctor are required to use the drugs:

  • First Visit:The first drug is given.
  • Second Visit:Two days later, the second drug is given. Patients should expect bleeding and cramping after this visit, which lasts around nine to 16 days. In cases of excessive bleeding, surgical intervention may be required.
  • Third Visit:A follow-up visit is required 14 days after the first visit.Side effects include nausea, headache, vomiting and diarrhea.

    The drug has been available in Europe since 1988. About 650,000 women have used the pill, which is about 92 percent effective. From staff and wire reports

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