American Women Enthusiastic About Mifepristone

A newly released study in the July/August issue of the Archives of Family Medicine reports that all women (96%) who have undergone an early medical abortion with mifepristone (formerly called RU 486) in the Population Council’s U.S. clinical trials would recommend the procedure to others and most (91%) would choose it again themselves. Eighty-eight percent of women found the mifepristone procedure to be very or moderately satisfactory.

“Our trial results accord with previous research findings that early medical abortion is desirable to the women who choose it,” said Beverly Winikoff, M.D., lead author of the study. Women found the method acceptable across socioeconomic, race and cultural lines. Winikoff also found that physicians liked the method and that their enthusiasm grew with increased experience with administration of the compound.

“Mifepristone offers women a method of terminating a pregnancy that is earlier, non-invasive, and more private. The Population Council study documents the tremendous enthusiasm of women and physicians for this method of very early medical abortion. It has been a full decade since this drug became available in France. American women will not tolerate further delays in making this medical breakthrough available here,” said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal.

Referring to recent Congressional action that could prohibit FDA approval of mifepristone, Smeal stated, “How ironic it is that as new studies are released showing the safety, efficacy, and acceptability of mifepristone to American women Congress is making a last ditch effort to block its availability in the United States. This outrageous attempt to limit the FDA’s ability to review new drugs is nothing short of medical McCarthyism and exposes the extremism of the anti-abortion movement.”

On July 14, the U.S. House of Representatives, by a close vote of 223 to 202, passed the Coburn amendment to the agricultural appropriations bill prohibiting FDA funding for testing, development, or approval of drugs that cause abortion. Similar language may be considered in the Senate.

Feminist Majority Director of Policy and Research Jennifer Jackman, Ph.D., added, “Never before has Congress dictated to the FDA what drugs the agency can and cannot approve. This amendment dangerously undermines the ability of the FDA to scientifically evaluate medical advances, threatens scientific research and development, and is an unconstitutional restriction on women’s abortion rights. Anti-abortion politics already has caused unconscionable delays in the development of mifepristone’s other potential uses such as the treatment of endometriosis, fibroid tumors, mengingioma, Cushing’s Syndrome, and labor induction. Adoption of the Coburn Amendment would further jeopardize the health and lives of women.”

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