Misoprostol and the Hidden Pro-Life Crisis

Steven Mosher
by Colin Mason
Director for Media Production at PRI
PRI Weekly Briefing
4 February 2008
Reproduced with Permission
Population Research Institute

The pro-abortion movement is moving stealthily to open another front in the abortion wars. Its name is misoprostol.

Misoprostol is most well-known as the active ingredient in Cytotec, a prescription drug whose FDA-approved usage is to relieve gastric ulcers. Misoprostol has proven very effective in this regard, and it has also been used to treat women who are hemorrhaging from a spontaneous miscarriage, or following childbirth. This is the good news.

The bad news is that it is just as "effective" at causing an abortion.

Pro-abortion groups have been swift to take advantage of this new anti-life weapon. Misoprostol, when used in conjunction with the steroid mifepristone, will cause a pregnant woman to miscarry 90 percent of the time. This is, of course, RU-486.

But Misoprostol alone is only slightly less deadly. What it amounts to is a one-pill, one-day, "homemade" abortion. A woman who takes the drug generally begins hemorrhaging, after which she need merely go to a local medical clinic and claim that she is miscarrying.

From the point of view of the doctor who examines her, the woman is spontaneously miscarrying. There is no evidence that she has aborted herself. Nor is the doctor aware that, by removing the now-dead baby, he is completing an elective abortion.

Misoprostol can be an even more effective abortifacient than the MVA device.

The FDA strictly warns against the usage of misoprostol for any obstetric use, even to slow hemorrhaging, but this has not stopped doctors domestically or abroad from doing so. "Misoprostol is sometimes used to decrease blood loss after delivery of a baby," the FDA clearly states on its web site. "These uses are not approved by the FDA. No company has sent the FDA scientific proof that misoprostol is safe and effective for these uses."

The drug has been seized upon by abortion-pushing NGO's, who see misoprostol as their ultimate "final solution." Indeed, this small pill requires no medical training to use, it is easily stored at ambient temperatures and it is available over-the-counter in many developing countries.

Women on Waves, the infamous Dutch abortion group, calls the misoprostol/mifepristone cocktail "the best and safest way a woman can do an abortion herself until the 9th week of pregnancy," going on to offer detailed instructions on how to do so. Gynuity Health Projects, a notoriously pro-abortion NGO, has an entire project dedicated to introducing abortion in Latin American countries, in which misoprostol plays an integral part.

Even more flagrant is the web site http://www.misoprostolabortion.com. This group states baldly that its goal is "to provide information [about misoprostol] to pregnant women who want to end their pregnancies, women who live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, countries where abortion is illegal, or for women who for some reason or the other do not have access to legal abortion services." So much for the rule of law.

The misoprostol situation provides a unique dilemma for pro-lifers everywhere, especially those who have been working so tirelessly over the years to overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision. Here is a drug that can be used to circumvent the laws restricting abortion. Not only that, but this same drug has legitimate medical uses that make it impossible to demand that it simply be taken off the market altogether.

According to PRI president Steven Mosher, "The first thing pro-lifers need to do is to make people aware of this new threat to life. Then we have to seek legal solutions to this misuse of a deadly drug, the medical malpractice that is involved, and be prepared to fight this same battle in dozens of countries around the world."

This can be done, first and foremost, by educating people about this unapproved, off-label use of misoprostol, and how organizations like Gynuity and www.misoprostolabortion.com are encouraging women to violate U.S. and international laws and regulations.

Finally, the FDA has a watchdog role to play here. Groups that are encouraging the off-label use of misoprosptol should be subject to regulatory action.

This is not without precedent. In the late 1990's, population control enthusiast Steven Mumford was promoting quinacrine hydrochloride, a drug authorized for anti-malarial use only, as a chemical agent to sterilize Third World women. After PRI blew the whistle on him, the FDA acted. Mumford was ordered to cease and desist, and to destroy his stockpile of quinacrine.

It is time for the FDA to act.

Click here to contact the FDA, or send a letter to their mailing address at:

Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857
Telephone: 1-888-INFO-FDA