Two Different Abortion Pills: MAP and RU-486

Steven Mosher
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
PRI Weekly Briefing
28 December 2006
Vol. 8, No. 51
Reproduced with Permission

Some people call RU-486 "the abortion pill," but in fact there are two different abortion pills now widespread in America. One is RU-486 (scientific name mifepristone), used in early pregnancy to induce abortion, often in combination with another drug. The other is the morning-after pill (MAP), sold under the brand name Plan B and which is simply a high-dose version of the standard oral contraceptive pill. Both kill unborn children, meaning that there are two abortion pills exterminating children in our low-birthrate land. And all this is separate from the possibility that sometimes, the regular oral contraceptive pill acts an abortifacient, too.

MAP must be taken within a few days--within 72 hours for the maximum chance of effectiveness--after sexual relations to prevent or abort pregnancy. MAP's supporters including the mainstream media label it "emergency contraception," but many of MAP's scientific supporters say that MAP not only prevents fertilization, but can sometimes prevent the implantation of an already fertilized egg. Another name for a "fertilized egg" is a "conceived child," a separate person with his own DNA and pattern of growth.

This year, President Bush's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved over-the-counter sales of MAP to those 18 and older, making an abortifacient easily obtainable for adults--and their underage girlfriends--in potentially every drugstore in the nation. The FDA caved in to feminist pressure after resisting for years, even though the FDA's own experts warned that repeated use of MAP could have serious health consequences for women. As we have noted before, does anyone doubt that many college-age women will use MAP over and over? And given that two-thirds of teen mothers have boyfriends 20 or older, can anyone seriously doubt that men will buy MAP for their young girlfriends again and again? (Did you know that in our largest state, California, the father of a 15-year-old's child is usually 21 or older?)

If MAP were still prescription-only, at least a doctor and pharmacist would be there to put a check on repeated use and also steer young women away from it who have health issues that could make even one use of MAP dangerous.

As for RU-486, it's already been shown to be ten times as risky for a woman than surgical abortion. Feminists make a great show of concern for women, but when it comes to a choice between killing as many children as possible and safeguarding women's health, they always choose death. Why did feminists press for over-the-counter MAP when they know repeated use could be seriously harmful? Why do they continue to support RU-486, though plenty of evidence including a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows it to be far more dangerous for the aborting mother than alternative forms of abortion? The prestigious NEJM is not known for pro-life sentiments, yet that study found RU-486 to be ten times more likely to kill the women using it than surgical abortion in the early months of pregnancy, the only time RU-486 is used.

The FDA officially rushed approval of RU-486 in the last few months of the Clinton Administration, granting mifepristone an imprimatur under rules reserved for desperately-needed life-saving drugs. As the reports of deaths and serious injuries from RU-486 have rolled in, Bush's FDA has done nothing but talk about the health risks.

The advantage of RU-486 is that a trip to the abortion clinic is unnecessary. Any MD can prescribe it, helping make abortion even more unsafe, legal, and common. Over-the-counter MAP simplifies the process even further. Pay cash, and no one will ever know that you had "unprotected" sex and then eliminated the natural consequence. Both forms of chemical abortifacient will likely become even more widespread in the new year.