One of the last acts of Australia’s recently ousted prime minister, Julia Gillard, was to sign off on the cabinet approval to drastically reduce the cost of the abortion drug RU-486.
Starting Aug. 1 the drug will be available under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This means that for women with concession cards, the price will drop from $A800 (US$734) to only $A12 (US$11).
The drug has become more widely available as well. On Aug. 30 last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration lifted restrictions on the number of doctors allowed to prescribe it. Previously only 187 doctors had permission to prescribe RU-486.
“This decision is a serious retrograde step for Australia,” commented one of Sydney’s auxiliary bishops, Julian Porteous.
The decision to slash the price of RU-486 coincided with the launch of the second edition of “RU 486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals,” by Renate Klein, Janice Raymond and Lynette Dumble. The original text published in 1991 now contains a new 98-page preface by Renate Klein.
Written from a feminist perspective that is in favor of abortion the authors explain at length the health dangers associated with the use of RU-486.
In her preface, Klein lamented the fact that the reaction to the original book by women’s and pro-abortion groups was negative, with the authors being labeled as “traitors” to the cause of women’s abortion rights.
Twenty years later the situation has not changed, she said. Moreover, since the first edition many countries — 50 by mid-2011 — have legalized RU-486.
Regarding the health risks of RU-486 Klein cites a large number of sources. One study found that 10% of women suffer from excessive bleeding. This might seem low, but she explained, extrapolated to the 1.5 million women in the U.S. alone who had used the drug by 2011, the numbers affected are significant. Infections and the need for blood transfusions are some of the other complications.
Both the failure rate and the risk of complications are higher in chemical abortions compared to surgical ones. “Pills are a lousy way to perform an abortion,” said Dr. Warren Hern, an abortion provider in Denver, according to a source cited by Klein.
Turning to the Australian experience Klein noted that the number of adverse reactions, including deaths, follows the pattern of overseas experience.
She warned that with the lowering of the price of RU-486 in Australia, this will mean that it is cheaper than a surgical abortion. This may well lure more women into using the option of chemical abortion, with all the dangerous secondary effects.
The situation is more dire in developing countries, where she observed RU-486 is pushed as a means of population control. Given the lack of adequate hospital facilities in many areas, women who suffer complications will not be able to obtain treatment.
Changes in America
Australia isn’t the only place where RU-486 causes controversy. A week ago the Texas Senate approved a bill, already passed by the House, to restrict abortion. Among the changes is the introduction of stricter guidelines on how doctors administer abortion-inducing drugs, including RU-486.
Previously the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Oklahoma Supreme Court to make further rulings regarding an Oklahoma law based on Americans United for Life’s model legislation, the “Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act,” according to a report published June 27 by LifeNews.com.
“The Supreme Court has taken a first step toward protecting women and girls from the abortion industry’s callous disregard for their health and safety when using life-ending drugs,” said Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest.
According to the article there have been more than 2,200 cases of severe adverse reaction to RU-486 since its legalization in September 2000.
A short time before, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill that introduced restrictions on RU-486, according to a May 1 report by LifeNews.com.
Why are abortion advocates so keen on RU-86? On April 11, Randall K. O’Bannon published a report titled “5 Reasons behind the Abortion Industry Push for Chemical Abortions,” in the National Right to Life News service.
First, he said, it has been promoted as a more attractive option compared to surgery. Second, it targets the fetus at an earlier stage of pregnancy before women have seen the fetus with an ultrasound.
Third, to make it easier for doctors, many of whom do not want to perform surgical abortions.
Fourth, the number of abortions in America has dropped significantly in the last two decades, so RU-486 is a chance to attract more women with a new product.
Fifth, once its use became widespread in America it would be easier to bring it to other countries.
When the price of RU-486 was slashed, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek hailed it as a positive step for women. Making it easier for more women to use it only puts greater numbers in danger: hardly a step forward for them.