By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research
Editor’s note. Last Wednesday Dr. O’Bannon provided NRL News Today readers with a succinct explanation of the “5 Reasons behind the Abortion Industry Push for Chemical Abortions.” Today is the fifth installment of a series in which he fleshed out those five reasons. It’s important to remember that chemical abortions are a crucially important “growth center” for the Abortion Industry.
Reason # 5: Taking Abortion to the Developing World
Early on, Etienne Emile Baulieu, the so-called “father of the abortion pill” (which is actually a two-drug combination) talked about the need for something to deal with the “demographic” problem in the world. It takes little imagination to figure out that by this that he meant population, particularly the birth of children in certain poor and undeveloped areas of the world.
Supporters were happy to see RU-486 sold in France, Britain, and China, but they knew that clearing the hurdle of American approval was the key to worldwide use. Mutual recognition agreements led to the pill being approved in several new European countries in 1999 (Pharma Marketletter, 7/13/99), when it was on the cusp of approval in the U.S. However most of the approvals in Africa and Asia came after that approval in the United States in 2000. Today, RU-486 is approved for use in over 50 countries around the world.
That the abortion pill is legally marketed and sold in so many countries is troubling enough. But what promoters of these chemical abortifacients want most of all is for women to get the idea that there are drugs that they can buy and use to put an end to their pregnancies, whether their governments have approved the pills or not.
At a 1998 conference in Bermuda, representatives of Exelgyn, the European manufacturer of RU-486, along with the Population Council, U.S. sponsors of the drug application, met with delegates from Kenya, India, South Africa, Cuba, Vietnam, and other countries to discuss the abortion pill’s future.
Two statements illustrated just how far the industry was willing to go to get these chemical abortions into the hands of women in developing nations.
The then-president of company handling distribution in the United States identified developing countries as those “with the most urgent need for this technology.” He baldly asked whether “unmet need for abortion and the morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion in developing countries merit relaxation of the stringent requirements for quality in place in developed countries.”
In other words, the head of the U.S. distributor of RU-486 was convinced there was such an “unmet need” in many of the target countries that he was comfortable saying that perhaps the usual “quality controls” – one presumes issues like drug purity, safety, limits on who could dispense the drug, etc.-– might be relaxed.
The working group’s final statement also indicated that the legality or illegality of abortion was not going to be an issue for them. They declared, “Advocacy for abortion is essential irrespective of the prevailing legal position regarding provision of abortion services.”
A country’s laws on abortion could be disregarded. This explains why there is a website, www.womenonweb.org, specifically set up for women from countries where abortion is illegal to order the abortion drugs.
Women from those countries can click, “I need an abortion,” go through a short cursory medical interview, promise not to hold the organization liable, and order abortion pills to be sent to their home with instructions. There is no specific charge, but a minimal donation of 90 euros is requested (about $118).
Women with Internet access or a mobile phone can access and order from the website in twelve different languages.
Though cell phones today are found in some of the remotest sections of the planet, promoters of the abortion pill are not depending on their customers being technologically savvy or even literate. Abortion and family planning groups from the U.S., with assistance from the World Health Organization and the UNFPA, are promoting a special prepackaged blister pack of RU-486 and prostaglandin developed by an Indian pharmaceutical firm. It’s marketed as “Medabon.”
What is remarkable about this packet is that it comes with step-by-step cartoon graphics illustrating not just how and when to take the pills, but also expected side effects.
Instead of the expensive RU-486 pills that may be harder to bring into some countries, several groups are promoting the use of the considerably cheaper prostaglandin misoprostol (normally used in the second step of a RU-486/PG abortion) as a stand alone abortifacient.
Misoprostol has other non-abortifacient uses (e.g., as an anti-ulcer drug). Even where misoprostol cannot be officially prescribed for abortion, women can either get it on the black market or obtain a prescription for other legitimate medical purposes.
The Woman on Waves project garnered a lot of publicity by mooring a so-called “abortion ship” off the coast of Ireland in 2001 and 2002, and then Poland in 2003 and Portugal in 2004. It initially offered chemical abortions performed in international waters, but more recently switched to setting up abortion hotlines, telling women how they can obtain and use misoprostol to begin their own abortions.
IPAS is a well known manufacturer of abortion equipment and a worldwide promoter of abortion. IPAS published an article in 2008 outlining an arrangement that a group called Inciativas Sanitarias (Health Initiatives Group) had going on in Uruguay — where abortion was, until 2012, officially illegal.
We read that to address the “problem of unsafe, self-induced abortion,” women who are “at risk are identified, given a physical exam by a doctor, and given info about all their “options,” including chemical abortion with misoprostol.” That doctor does not actually write the prescription for misoprostol, but tells her how to use it. Because misoprostol is sold for other uses, she can obtain a prescription from a different doctor.
After her abortion, she returns to her original doctor, who determines whether she has aborted or shows any signs of excessive bleeding or infection.
“Because the health-care team is neither providing the misoprostol nor inducing the abortion,” the IPAS author notes, “the initiative works within the constraints of Uruguayan law.” IPAS claims “The Uruguayan Ministry of Public Health has officially endorsed the model as a national strategy to reduce death and injuries from unsafe abortion” (A: The Abortion Magazine, Spring 2008)
Other groups like Gynuity are marketing “Instructions for Use: Abortion Induction with Misoprostol in Pregnancies up to 9 Weeks LMP. “ This pamphlet is very similar in outline and structure to the official labels or lengthy package inserts that come with most medications.
Women who read the material do find out something about the side effects but relatively little about the women who initiated chemical abortions with RU-486 or misoprostol and who have bled to death, died of rare infections, or lost their lives when an undetected ectopic pregnancy ruptured. Women who do experience significant bleeding or other hard to manage side effects are told to contact their doctor or “provider” and get medical help.
If they are in a country where abortion is illegal, they are told not to worry about their abortion attempt being discovered. “You could say that you think you had a miscarriage,” the Women on Waves website tells women; “it is not necessary to tell the medical staff that you tried to induce an abortion, you can also say you had a spontaneous miscarriage. The doctor CANNOT see the difference” (www.womenonwaves.org/en/page/702/how-to-do-an-abortion-with-pills-misoprostol-cytotec, accessed 4/10/13).
The world’s abortion promoters act as if broadly legal and widely available abortion is the key to women’s health and the answer to the world’s “demographic” problems. In fact, it compounds the dangers to women’s health as we have written about many times as NRL News Today.
What women, men, and children need most in the developing world is not abortion, but clean water, sanitary conditions, and life preserving health care. (See “Evidence presented at World Health Assembly that health care, not abortion, will solve maternal mortality,” http://nrlc.cc/11gE5Sx.)
What the abortion industry has offered them is not a better life, but increased danger and death.