Abortion Pill Approved

ByABC News
September 28, 2000, 10:55 AM

B O S T O N, Sept. 28 -- Changing the course of abortion practice in the United States, women will soon be able to terminate an early pregnancy with the pill RU-486, or Mifeprex, now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved its use today.

The pill has been used by more than a half-million women in Europe for the past decade, but has not been been available for the 1 million American women who have a surgical abortion annually. It is expected to be available here within four weeks.

This is a medical milestone, says Vicki Saporta, a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based National Abortion Federation, which accredits abortion providers. Todays approval is a victory for all American women. At long last, science has triumphed over politics.

It is an important day in womens health care, says Dr. Richard Hausknecht, medical director of Danco Laboratories in New York City, the company distributing the drug. American women have a safe and effective early option for ending pregnancy.

Anti-abortion groups denounced the decision. We will not tolerate the F.D.A.s decision to approve the destruction of innocent human persons through chemical abortion, said Judie Brown of the anti-abortion American Life League.

The approval is widely expected to bring the drug out of abortion clinics and into the offices of family physicians and gynecologists, as many doctors who do not provide surgical abortions say they plan to prescribe the medication.

How Mifeprex Will Work Doctors will give women a guide explaining how the drug works and will give them all their dosages of the pill in their offices. Women will sign a consent form to ensure they understand what may happen when they take the pill.

The pill, mifepristone, which must be taken within seven weeks of a womans last period, blocks progesterone, a hormone needed to sustain pregnancy. After taking the initial dose, she will return to the doctor two days later, where she will receive a second drug, misoprostol, which will cause the embryo to be expelled.