February 8, 2001
volume 12, no. 39

Pro-Life Lawmakers Introduce RU 486 Limitation Legislation

    WASHINGTON, DC (AP/Reuters from - Two pro-life lawmakers are pushing for a limit on those who can prescribe the dangerous RU 486 abortion pill contending that earlier, rushed government approval of the drug omitted necessary safeguards.

    Pro-abortion activists immediately denounced the legislation as an attempt to limit access to RU-486 which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last September after years of debate.

    The bill, offered by pro-life Sen. Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas and pro-life Rep. David Vitter of Louisiana, requires that a physician prescribing RU-486 must be qualified to handle complications from incomplete abortions as well as legally authorized to perform medical abortions that will br performed after botched abortions when RU 486 failed to work. A prescribing physician must be qualified to read a sonogram to date the pregnancy or detect an ectopic pregnancy and also must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In order to provide the drug, physicians would also have to be trained in the administration of the abortion drug "through an FDA-approved curriculum."

    The FDA said in its approval that prescribing doctors should be able to refer patients for surgical abortions or admission to hospitals.

    "This bill seeks to ensure that the health of women who take this drug will not be jeopardized due to improper administration of the drug by an inadequately-trained health professional," said Hutchinson, (R-AR), who introduced the bill in the Senate, as he did last year. Hutchinson said the bill's only intention is ``to ensure the health and safety of women who are prescribed RU-486.''

    ``I have no doubt that if women were asked whether their doctor should be required to be able to read an ultrasound, handle complications and get them admitted to the hospital in case of an emergency, they would not hesitate to demand those levels of competence,'' Hutchinson said.

    ``Last fall the Clinton-Gore FDA caved in to political pressure from the abortion lobby and hurriedly approved the abortion drug without critical health protections for those who use it. Our legislation corrects that mistake,'' Vitter said. He added, ``The least we can do is ensure that this drug does not endanger the health of the mother.''

    Pro-abortion activists argue that the FDA set up a lengthy process for administering the drug, including that a woman must visit the prescribing doctor three times before she can receive the drug. They also note the drug went through almost eight years of clinical trials in the United States before approval. The FDA considered restrictions similar to those proposed by the lawmakers but rejected them.

    Pro-abortion Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) said the plan will ``significantly impede access to abortion.''

    The agency lacks the power to overturn its decision unless the drug encounters unexpected, severe side effects. It could impose additional restrictions on its use, but that would require a lengthy rule-making procedure and need medical justification.

    President George W. Bush called federal approval of RU-486 ``wrong,'' and he supports a review of FDA approval of the drug.

February 8, 2001
volume 12, no. 39
Pro Life News
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