The Profane Politics of RU-486
by Denny Hartford
It was another case of ideology trumping science and common sense when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the dangerous abortion drug RU-486 (aka Mifepristone) for general use. I say dangerous in both the most obvious sense (preborn children are murdered by this powerful chemical) but also because of the alarming effects the drug has on expectant mothers.
The medical case detailing the damage done by the drug is quite clear, up to and including women’s deaths. Why then would the FDA act in contradiction to the facts? They did so because, like other government agencies, it had been taken captive by the radical left. “Progressive” ideology drives the government bureaucracies and the social service agencies nowadays as much as it does the media, the educational establishment, and the medical powers that be. Consider just the following science-related issues: mainstreaming homosexuality and other sexual perversions, women in combat, embryonic stem cell experimentation and other genetic engineering which denies human exceptionalism, the various battlegrounds involving “reproductive freedom.” In all of these, well-established scientific truths are being ignored for the sake of serving a liberal ideology.
The approval of RU-486 is an illustration of the desire to have the cake of the sexual revolution and eat it too. To do so, the social engineers of our post-Christian era are trying to eliminate anything (legal, moral, even biological!) that would govern sexual activity in any way. Among the targets? Modesty. Decency. Self-control. Marriage. Fidelity within the bonds of matrimony. Strictures against easy divorce. Pregnancy. Large families.
Into this headlong rush to destroy the Christian ethics of sexuality have come many players, including the practitioners and promoters of “junk science.” One of those was Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu, the discoverer of RU-486. Baulieu boasted that the drug was simple, inexpensive, and it avoided the widespread controversy revolving around surgical abortion. Indeed, Baulieu argued that his drug would soon make first trimester surgical abortion practically obsolete.
The sales approach taken by the drug’s manufacturer, however, was to avoid talk of abortion whenever possible. RU-486 was therefore introduced as a “morning after pill” with its actual effects shrouded in double-speak and half-truths. But it proved so wildly inaccurate as a backup contraceptive that this particular sales pitch was abandoned. RU-486 simply was not effective before the progesterone levels reached a critical threshold. The next move was to sell RU-486 as a “menstrual regulator” but that proved problematic also as it soon became evident that the drug produced a phenomenon in which a woman’s ovulatory and menstrual cycles became unlinked. And that significantly reduced RU-486’s power to end the pregnancy...at least on its own. The drug was just not very effective after the seventh week of pregnancy or before the fourth.
Oh yes, one other matter. The drug’s manufacturer, feminist social engineers, abortion activists, and, of course, abortion profiteers like Planned Parenthood, all implied that RU-486 was a wonder drug, one that worked after sexual intercourse to prevent a pregnancy. In small doses, such sources suggested, RU-486 is an “emergency contraceptive.” They tried extremely hard to avoid admitting the scientific truth that the drug actually had another action; that is, it ended a pregnancy when it had already begun. * (See footnote 1.) True, the woman who trusted the contraceptive claims might not fully understand how RU-486 would work. But the overarching effect – that there would be no baby to worry about – would be achieved no matter what.
But that “other” action turned out to be very, very difficult to hide. For the alarming reality emerged that RU-486 routinely required “assistance” from prostaglandin drugs to complete the termination of pregnancy; that is, to terminate the life of a baby if it had been conceived. Those prostaglandin drugs create powerful uterine convulsions which expel the usually -- but not always -- dead baby from the mother’s body.
As you can see, this long list of failed intentions show RU-486 to be a far cry from the simple, stand-alone drug it is claimed to be. But again, RU-486 is just one example of the irrational passion to erase the sexual ethics taught in the Holy Scriptures. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the general media is ignoring the full story of RU-486. Most journalists are in agreement with the abortion enthusiasm that marks the progressivism of the 21st Century. So they accept without investigation (and then dutifully pass along) the “junk science” arguments that defend the politically-correct goals.
If this were not the case, the press would long ago have penetrated the RU-486 hype and informed the public about such things as the international inquiry commission that in 1992 described the "best" case scenario of RU-486 might include as many as six visits to the physician! Again, this is certainly not the simple, do-it-yourself, at-home abortion drug that the press continues to sell. And that’s even when a journalist will admit to RU-486 being an abortion drug and not a mere contraceptive. The doctor visits described by the commission include one to confirm the pregnancy and administer the drug; another requiring up to 12 hours in hospital for prostaglandin injections; a third visit if help is needed to expel the body of the preborn child; a fourth, required in some cases, for repeat prostaglandin injections; the fifth visit if a surgical D & C is required; and then a sixth visit later on to insure all parts of the baby’s body have been removed from the uterus.
Can you see why Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses are driving to expand the use of RU-486? They stand to make an awful lot of money from the initial sales of the drug --and from all those subsequent services as well.
And I almost forgot to mention another well-documented potential of RU-486. That is the problem of excessive vaginal bleeding. That often requires a hospital stay also.
A joint committee of the French Republic (including the Director of General Health, the Director of Hospitals, and the Director of Pharmacy and Medicine) admitted that prostaglandins presented a significant danger to a patient’s cardiovascular action. For that reason (and in the face of other severe consequences of using RU-486), that group suggested that whenever prostaglandins are given a patient, cardiopulmonary resuscitation equipment be present…along with a defibrillator, calcium channel blockers and, because of the danger the prostaglandins present to the human heart, the monitoring of vital signs over a period of hours. These are things you’ll find in a hospital ER – but not in a home bathroom.
Do you get this picture when you read news stories about RU-486? Of course not. And that is because a dramatically liberal and distinctly dangerous ideology now has the helm of media and much of the medical/scientific structure. Health care safeguards, right to know options, and basic medical standards for women have been hijacked in the quest for total sexual freedom. The victims of this unnatural campaign are women, preborn babies, the consciences of health care workers, and the moral ideals that have been the crown of Western civilization. **
* Footnote 1) – Dr. Paul Byrne, well-known neonatologist and pediatrician, author, professor, founder of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, and past-President of the Catholic Medical Association, writes: “Several years ago, I searched to find evidence that these manufactured steroids (the pill, patch, etc) can inhibit ovulation when given on ovulation day. It did not exist then, and I doubt that it exists now. Thus, either the ‘morning after’ approach does abortion or it does nothing.”
** Footnote 2) I passed along a draft of this article to a few long-time friends and colleagues in pro-life ministry, asking if they had any suggestions before I finished it. Notable suggestions which made it a better article came from Dr. Paul Byrne (especially, the quotation I’ve added in Footnote #1) and from Dr. Greg Gardner, a GP in private practice in Birmingham, United Kingdom.