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Medical abortion in America
22/9/00

It will now possible for American women to have medical abortion, because the FDA has approved mifepristone (RU-486).

For more information and an action item to thank the FDA for this long-awaited step, you can visit the CARAL Pro-Choice Education Fund's website athttp://www.choice.org

Also visit the Danco Website:www.earlyoptionpill.com

The Alan Guttmacher Institute has a great deal of information available on this issue. Several recent studies from The Alan Guttmacher Institute provide background information on abortion incidence and services in the United States and on medical abortion:

For information on the shift towards earlier abortion, see More Abortion Providers Are Moving To Offer Very Early Medical And Surgical Services, AGI news release, February 18, 2000,http://192.168.1.14/pubs/archives/newsrelease_021700.phpl

For information on what providers of surgical abortions think about medical abortion, see Carole Joffe, Reactions to Medical Abortion Among Providers Of Surgical Abortion: An Early Snapshot, Family Planning Perspectives, 31(1), January/February 1999,http://www.agiusa.org/pubs/journals/3103599.phpl

For information on the availability of abortion services in the United States, see Stanley K. Henshaw, Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States, 1995ñ1996, Family Planning Perspectives 30(6), November/December 1998,
http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/3026398.phpl

For information on women having abortions, see Stanley K. Henshaw and Kathryn Kost, Abortion Patients in 1994-1995: Characteristics and Contraceptive Use, Family Planning Perspectives 28(4), July/August 1996,http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/2814096.phpl

The Reproductive health technologies Project has released the following statement:

At Last! The FDA Approves Mifepristone

Final approval of mifepristone (RU-486) for early pregnancy termination signals a milestone in women's reproductive health care. For the first time, women in the United States who chose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy will have a real choice in how it is provided for them.

Bringing mifepristone into this country has been a priority for the women's reproductive health community for over a decade. Certainly no one could have predicted it would take more than ten years to achieve and the Population Council and Danco LLC are to be congratulated for their enduring commitment to this goal. At last, women in the United States will have access to a safe, early option that has been used by more than 500,000 women in Europe and millions more in Asia.

Politics - not science - prevented RU-486 from coming into this country in the first place and politics - not science - created the delays in bringing the drug to the market. In the end, however, the FDA has ensured that science - not politics - will prevail.

The good news is that while final approval languished, research on mifepristone continued. As a result, we know that mifepristone can be administered safely and effectively by a range of health care providers in a variety of "real world" settings. For example, hundreds of women have self-administered misoprostol - the second drug in the regimen - which means they experience the abortion in the privacy of their own home under the care and support of their family and friends.

With FDA approval of mifepristone, women will now have one more option for early pregnancy termination. Unlike traditional abortion procedures, mifepristone can be used for very early pregnancy termination - as early as eight days after a woman's last menstrual period. Because early options can be offered safely in a variety of settings, women will experience a greater degree of privacy and control over the process of terminating an unwanted pregnancy.

A decade of experience in France shows that availability of mifepristone leads women who have decided on abortion to seek care earlier in their pregnancies; it does not show that women have more abortions overall. As it stands now, most abortions in the U.S. are performed in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Approval of mifepristone means that more U.S. women are likely to seek care earlier in their pregnancies.

While FDA approval is critical to expanding women's access to this safe, early option, it is not the final step. Ironically, the real work is just beginning. Women must be informed of their options, clinicians need to be trained in how to provide this simple regimen for their patients, and continued political opposition to women's reproductive health must be countered. Nevertheless, FDA approval of mifepristone is certainly a significant step forward.

For Further Information Contact:
Kirsten Moore, Project Director
Tel: 202.530.2900 / Fax: 202.530.2901

 
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