Look Away, Look Away, The Rage for RU 486
By Paul Greenberg
[Pro-Life Infonet Note: Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated
columnist based in Little Rock, Arkansas. A Pulitzer prize winner,
Greenberg's columns frequently focus on pro-life issues and he has won top
award from Arkansas Right to Life and been a featured speaker at the
National Right to Life convention. As reported in the Pro-Life Infonet,
Greenberg was dropped as a commentator from the University of Arkansas at
Little Rock radio station but later reinstated following a letter in
support of his work by pro-life Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR).]
Abortion has ceased to be a medical procedure and become a political
imperative. Even the most minimal requirements for an abortion pill may
now be denounced as an infringement on the Constitution, meaning an
infringement on Roe vs. Wade, the Magna Carta of abortion.
Consider the arguments being made here in Arkansas against a bill in the
Legislature that would establish standards for the use of RU-486, a drug
whose sole purpose is to induce abortions.
Despite all the advertising for this "early option pill," its side effects
can be serious - as clinical trials have demonstrated. RU-486 may be
marketed as trouble-free (if you don't read the small print) but it ain't
You would think anyone interested in protecting the health of women would
support a bill like this. The standards it sets are minimal: The doctor
administering the drug would have to be qualified to handle incomplete
abortions, which RU-486 has been known to induce. He should be able to get
his patient admitted to a hospital if necessary. He (or she) would need to
be certified in the use of ultrasound techniques - to make sure the baby
isn't too far along before this powerful drug is used. And the doctor
would be required to complete a course in the use of RU-486.
The state's medical society had no objection to such a bill, which speaks
well of the state's real doctors, but the abortion lobby was irate. Even
though the bill passed the Arkansas House, there were 24 votes against it.
Not even the simplest protections for women are acceptable to those for
whom abortion has become not a medical issue but an unquestionable
Murmur the magic words, "a woman's right to choose," and the rest of us
are supposed to butt out, and express no concern for her safety. Abortion
has become the right not just to kill the child but to endanger the
Anyone who expresses doubts about the latest style of abortion, whether
RU-486 or partial birth, will be told in no uncertain terms: (ital)Ask no
questions. Pass no regulations(unital). Shut up, the enlightened explain.
To quote Joyce Elliott, a state representative from Little Rock: "It's
about time we recognize that abortions in this country are legal. For us
to continue to throw up obstacles and interject ourselves between a woman
and her doctor, I submit, is going too far."
The same legislators just approved detailed standards to govern the
staffing of nursing homes in this state, but now they're told that a
matter of life and death is none of their business. This is a matter
between a woman and her doctor. The rest of us are supposed to pretend
that no one else is involved in this decision, no matter what the sonogram
Ask no questions. Pass no regulations.
That this same state representative, Joyce Elliott, is a fierce defender
of animal rights in the Legislature only adds to the feast of grisly
ironies that is the politics of abortion. For when it comes to protecting
women from abortions, she opposes any regulations at all.
To quote Representative Elliott, "Doctors are honorable people. They don't
need us to tell them what their medical ethics are."
So are they all, all honorable men, these abortionists - and so are all
those who send the Lesser Breeds to them. For it is black and Hispanic
women, the poor and troubled of all races, who are the prime candidates
for abortions in this country. Eugenics never disappeared, it just took a
new name: population control.
But didn't the Food and Drug Administration bless the use of RU-486? Yes,
it approved the drug through its fast-track program, which is officially
entitled: (ital)Accelerated Approval of New Drugs for Serious or Life
Threatening Illness(unital). The doublespeak involved here is symptomatic
of the whole culture of death: Life has become life-threatening.
Before RU-486, only a couple of dozen drugs had been certified this way,
including 17 for AIDS, eight for cancer, and one for leprosy. Pregnancy is
scarcely a life-threatening condition in these times, but RU-486 was given
the same priority treatment as drugs for cancer and AIDS.
If there were ever a case of political rather than medical approval of a
drug, this is it. What's more, thanks to the special way the drug was
approved, the manufacturers of the commercial version of RU-486 are
specifically exempted from liability for any of its adverse effects.
And there can be adverse effects. In clinical trials, 8 percent of the
women given the drug had incomplete abortions and 5 percent suffered
"excessive bleeding." That's according to the New England Journal of
Medicine. According to Jennifer Kabbany of The Weekly Standard, "In Iowa,
Dr. Mark Louviere treated one clinical trial subject who had lost more
than half her blood and was near death." Multiply these consequences by
the tens of thousands as the drug becomes popular, and the danger should
be obvious. No wonder Searle, the manufacturer of a popular version of the
drug, officially warns doctors prescribing the pill that it can cause
"maternal and fetal death, severe vaginal bleeding, shock" and so on.
Whether you're for or against abortion, a bill to establish minimal
standards for the use of RU-486 should be a routine piece of consumer
protection. Instead, it inevitably produces a debate over a Woman's Right
to Choose. No need to mention just what she might be choosing if RU-486 is
administered without safeguards.
March 20, 2001
volume 12, no. 79
Pro Life News