New Study Undermines Case for RU486 in Australia

By Dave Andrusko

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Planned Parenthood, a relentless promoter of RU486 abortions, heard about a story that appeared over the weekend in The Australian newspaper. The headline is ‘bad’ enough from their perspective–”Abortion pill ‘less safe than surgery’”—but it’s how much more dangerous “chemical” or “medical” abortions are for women.

Here are the first two paragraphs from Jaime Walker’s story (the “audit” refers to a study that appeared in the Australian Family Physician):

“The ‘audit’ of nearly 7000 abortions performed in South Australia in 2009 and last year found that 3.3 per cent of women who used mifepristone  in the first trimester of pregnancy–when most elective terminations occur – later turned up at hospital emergency departments, against 2.2 per cent who had undergone surgery.

“And the rate of hospital admission jumped to 5.7 per cent for recipients of early ‘medical’ abortions –using drugs–compared with 0.4 per cent for surgical patients re-admitted for post-operative treatment.”

(There is a discrepancy elsewhere in the story. The figure may actually be more than 9,000 abortions. “Mifepristone” is part one of the two-drug RU-486 abortion technique. The second drug is misoprostol, a prostaglandin.)

The study, by doctors Ea Mulligan and Hayley Messenger, also analyzed second-trimester abortions. Unlike the United States, abortions using RU486 are performed in the second trimester. There were complications “in up to 33 per cent of the cases reviewed,” Walker reported. By complications is meant some sort of surgical intervention.

National Right to Life News has run many, many stories about complications associated with the use of RU486. For example, a 2009 study from Finland found that 20% of the women using the abortion pill suffer at least one significant complication and that nearly 4% reported two or more complications or “adverse events” (see www.nrlc.org/news/2009/NRL11-12/RU486.html).

The best overview of RU486 complications is “RU486, the Abortion Pill: Risks and Dangers” found at www.nrlc.org/Factsheets/FS07_RU486.pdf.

If you wish to read the story from The Australian in its entirety, go here.

More than a fifth of abortions in South Australia are done using RU486. Looking to the future the most revealing line in the story is, “The findings will undermine a selling point of medical abortion–that the risk of complication is less than or equivalent to an operation–and play into the hands of opponents of the rollout of mifepristone, or RU486.”

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