Expanding use of termination drug opens 'ever-widening door to abortion', warns New York Cardinal
Pro-lifers insist the drug is dangerous and that its extended use is motivated by financial and political gain
The expanded use of an abortion-inducing drug in America will pave the way for the “destruction of even more innocent lives” say pro-life advocates.
The new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, announced on 30 March, allow women to use RU-486, known generically as mifepristone and by its brand name Mifeprex – later into their pregnancy and with fewer visits to a doctor. There is also concern that the loosened guidelines will allow non-physicians to dispense and prescribe the drug.
The FDA has lifted the upper limit for the use of mifepristone from seven weeks to up to 10 weeks into pregnancy. It claims the drug is safe and that women will benefit from having more time to decide whether to continue with their pregnancy.
But pro-lifers insist the drug is dangerous and that its extended use is motivated by financial and political gain. Some claim it is linked to the current presidential and congressional election campaigns as Republican and Democrat candidates seek support from women.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the US bishops' pro-life committee, has described the FDA’s decision as irresponsible.
"The unofficial, off-label use of RU-486 is now the new normal, paving the way for the destruction of even more innocent lives, and putting women and girls at risk of all the life-changing effects of abortion," he said in a statement on 1 April.
"Far from wanting abortion to be 'rare', abortion advocates are celebrating this expanded use as opening an ever-widening door to abortion," he said.
Cardinal Dolan also said the Food and Drug Administration were neglecting women’s health.
“Women have died from this drug, and many who used it after eight weeks of pregnancy ended up returning for surgical abortions,” he said.
"People need to know this is a very, very serious expansion of the use of RU-486," Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro Life Activities, told Catholic News Service last week.
"Clearly the loosening of the FDA guidelines puts more women, girls and unborn children at risk," she said.
Ms McQuade also expressed concern that women and girls will be faced with the possibility of delivering a "recognisably human child" at home with no one in attendance.
The new guidelines will not make chemical abortion safer, but are motivated by financial gain, Randall K. O'Bannon, director of education and research at National Right to Life, has said.
"In the end, it is obvious that the FDA's new protocol serves only the interest of the abortion industry by expanding their base of potential customers, increasing their profit margin and reducing the level of staff and amount of resources they have to devote to the patient," he said.
Dr Mark S. DeFranceso, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, welcomed the altered guidelines.
“Extending approved use of mifepristone through 70 days of gestation is proven to be safe and effective, and will give women more time to make the decision that is right for them," he said.
RU-486 is used with another drug called misoprostol, a prostaglandin, to induce a chemical abortion by blocking the hormone progesterone needed to sustain a pregnancy. In the UK, it is recommended for use up until the ninth week of pregnancy.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, about 16.5 per cent of the estimated 1.2 million abortions that take place annually in the United States involve the RU-486 drug.
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