For Immediate Release

September 28, 2000

Feminist Majority Foundation Declares Victory in 12-Year Campaign to Bring RU 486 to the United States

FDA Approval Marks Victory of Science Over Anti-abortion Politics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal called today’s FDA approval of mifepristone, formerly known as RU 486, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “a total victory for the U.S. women. At long last, science trumps anti-abortion politics and medical McCarthyism. If this medication was primarily for men, the French developers would already have received a Nobel Prize in medicine.”

Smeal continued, “Mifepristone will reframe the abortion debate by providing more and earlier access. By increasing the number and geographic spread of abortion availability, mifepristone will lead to a decrease in clinic violence and an increase in women’s privacy.”

“FDA approval of this medical breakthrough also means that long-stalled and desperately-needed trials on mifepristone’s other uses such as treating uterine fibroid tumors, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, meningioma (brain tumors), and some types of breast cancer and other serious diseases and conditions that mostly afflict women can finally move forward. We call upon NIH to devote funding for these trials to help make up for the many years of research time that has been lost to anti-abortion politics,” added Smeal.

In December of 1998, the Feminist Majority Foundation became the sole provider of mifepristone for compassionate use patients in the U.S. Physicians are able to obtain “compassionate use” FDA permission for treating patients who have exhausted other treatment options for critically ill patients with serious diseases such as meningiomas, endometrial cancer, Cushing’s Syndrome, and breast cancer which show some clinical response to mifepristone. The Foundation currently is supplying medication for 40 patients.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has led the 12-year campaign to make mifepristone available in the U.S. The Feminist Majority Foundation in July 1990 led the first-ever U.S. delegation to meet with then Roussel Uclaf CEO Dr. Edouard Sakiz. The Feminist Majority Foundation delivered over 700,000 petitions to Roussel Uclaf and Hoechst AG urging release of the compound and won support for mifepristone from almost every major U.S. women’s rights organization and medical and scientific association. The decision of Roussel Uclaf to transfer mifepristone patent rights to a U.S. organization has in significant part been credited to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s mobilization of support for the medication.

Mifepristone is now available in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Israel, China, and a growing list of countries. Over 10 million women have used the medication as a safe, effective method of early abortion.

For more information or to schedule interviews, call Julie Bernstein at (703)522-2214. Fact sheets on mifepristone’s uses and a chronology of the fight to bring mifepristone to the U.S. can be found at


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