The abortion pill is catching on, but only slowly. Contrary to predictions, few physicians have prescribed Mifepristone (also known as RU-486) in the year since the Food and Drug Administration granted approval.

The reason seems to be rising safety concerns. The New York-based Population Council, which owns the rights to the drug in the United States, reported a Mifepristone tragedy in September. A Canadian woman died of septic shock from a rare infection during clinical testing of the drug.

In 1994, an Iowa woman nearly died of severe hemorrhaging in another trial of the drug.

Such occasions are "all too frequent," says Gene Rudd, who opposes legalized abortion as associate executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

Mifepristone, taken with the prostaglandin Misoprostol, which makes the uterine muscles contract, can induce abortions in women with gestations of no more than 49 days.

But side effects are common (ct, June 11, p. 58).

According to a study released in September by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 6 percent of obstetricians/gynecologists and 1 percent of general practitioners had offered the Mifepristone regimen to women. However, an additional 16 percent of the former and 7 percent of the latter say they are likely to begin offering the drug.

Related Elsewhere

Recent Christianity Today articles on RU-486 include:
Counteroffensive Launched on RU-486 | Abortion-pill critics allege safety concerns overlooked in FDA approval process. (June 15, 2001)

Bush's Prolife Strategy Questioned | White House chief of staff says abortion isn't on list of public policy priorities. (June 15, 2001)

Bitter Pills | What does RU-486 change about abortion? (Dec. 11, 2000)

Activists Respond on RU-486 | Religious groups from opposite sides are criticizing and hailing the approval of the drug RU-486. (Nov. 13, 2000)

Books & Culture Corner: RU-486 Uncovers a Lie—And It's Not Just About Abortion | Think the abortion pill is indicative of postmodernity? You're wrong. (Oct. 2, 2000)

Abortion Pill Seems on Fast Track | Facing apparent "fast-track approval" of RU-486, pro-life activists say they will concentrate on grassroots education. (Sept. 16, 1996) analyzes the abortion pill and examines each side's position. Also, the site has an outline of the stages of human development.

The National Right to Life Council looks at a wide range of RU-486 issues, including addressing lingering concerns, looking at unresolved issues and answering common questions.

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The RU-486 Files is an anti-RU-486 site with an extensive collection of articles reaching back to 1991.

The Mifeprex (mifepristone) tablets' label is thirteen pages long on the Food and Drug Administration site. It includes a list of possible adverse reactions.

Find more information on Mifepristone from Planned Parenthood and the Food and Drug Administration.

Danco Laboratories, a women's health pharmaceutical company, explains how Mifepristone works, retraces the history of its exclusive license to distribute the pill, and discusses seeing a health care provider to obtain the pill.

Andrew Sullivan wrote in The New Republic that "RU-486 is indeed a sort of progress, if a kind fraught with moral danger."

Related media coverage includes:

RU-486 One year after FDA approval, the controversial abortion pill is being prescribed by relatively few doctorsUSA Today (October 1, 2001)
RU-486 has scant effect on abortionsDenver Post (September 24, 2001)
Survey: Many Doctors Reluctant to Prescribe RU-486 — Reuters (September 24, 2001)
Abortion pill slow to receive acceptanceThe Detroit News (June 13, 2001)

For more newspaper and magazine articles on the abortion debate, see Yahoo's full coverage area.

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