The abortion pill’s time in America may be drawing to a close. A House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Mark Souder (R.-Ind.) has begun a major investigation into the safety of RU-486 (mifepristone), the use of which has so far killed at least four American women.
Mifepristone (sold under the brand name Mifeprex) induces abortion medically, and is used as an alternative to surgical abortion in the early stages of pregnancy.
A December 21 letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach contains a detailed list of questions regarding the FDA’s own investigations into RU-486’s safety record. The letter seeks physician, autopsy, and other records so that the subcommittee can conduct its own review, and asks about the off-label regimens often used with mifepristone (off-label uses are legal but not approved by the FDA).
Souder also wants to know why it took so long for the drug’s maker, Danco Laboratories, to add the risk of bacterial infection to the drug’s warning label. All four American women who died from taking RU-486 had dangerous bacterial infections. Souder chairs the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the U.S. House’s Committee on Government Reform.
The investigation comes soon after the New England Journal of Medicine published an article suggesting that RU-486 abortions may be 10 times more likely to cause the death of the mother than surgical abortions performed at the same point in pregnancy.
Because of America’s lax medical reporting system, no one knows how many women may have died after taking RU-486. As the Population Research Institute wrote on December 2, "The FDA under the Clinton Administration officially rushed the approval of RU-486 under expedited procedures normally reserved for drugs needed to save people’s lives. Women have been paying with their health and even their lives since."