The study published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug, whose pharmacological name is mifepristone, caused an abortion in 92 percent of mothers who were pregnancy for less than 50 days. Earlier research had pegged the rate at between 96 and 99 percent. The researchers also found that RU-486 was less effective in women who had already had an abortion.
The researchers from the Population Council, the non-profit group that owns the US manufacturing rights, added that the older the unborn child, the greater the chance that the drug would fail. In addition, the risk of side effects, such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and the need for hospitalization, was higher among women pregnant for 50 days or longer. Many of those side effects appeared during the four hours the patients spent at the clinic waiting for the drug to work.
The Population Council said that despite the problems and risks discovered in the clinical trials, they are confident that the FDA will approve full-scale production, despite pro-life groups charges that the drug is dangerous to mothers.
On the plus side in Tallahassee, Florida, the Florida House approved a bill on Wednesday that would make a special license plate with the slogan "Choose Life" available to car owners, following the Senate which approved the measure a day earlier.
The plate, if the bill is signed by Gov. Lawton Chiles, would join 39 other special license plates that Floridians can receive after paying an extra fee. Other plates include one reading "Save the Manatee," memorializing the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, and expressing support for education. Opponents of the "Choose Life" plate said it was an inappropriate political statement while supports said it is a general affirmation of the value of life.
"To me it's a positive, pro-active message," John Dowless, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, said. "I personally think the state of Florida should have a policy that favors adoption over abortion." Proceeds from the sale of the new plate will be earmarked for services for pregnant women and to promote adoption. A spokesman for Chiles said it was not yet known whether the governor would sign the measure or veto it.