February 15, 2008

Be Our Guest / Dr. Hans Geisler

Further concerns with abortion drug RU-486

The most recent report from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a Planned Parenthood affiliate based in New York which produces annual reports on the number of induced abortions in the U.S., indicates that by 2005—the latest year from which figures are available—the number of abortions produced solely through consuming the abortion pill RU-486 (mifesterone) plus Cytotec (misoprostol) has increased 70 percent over the year 2001.

This trend is alarming for several reasons.

First, it should be obvious that women seeking an abortion and wanting to hide that fact would be much more likely to take an oral medication, even over several days, than they would be to have a surgical procedure done to abort the new life they are carrying.

Second, it lends credence to the view of some, both on the pro-death side and on the pro-life side, that the number of abortions performed annually in the United States may be significantly higher than current statistics indicate.

The reported decline in abortions may therefore be a misleading number. Rather than the reported drop in the number of abortions from 1.31 million in 2000 to 1.21 million in 2005, the actual number may be closer to the number reported in 2000 or even higher.

The annual numbers given by the Guttmacher Institute rely on the number of abortions publicly reported, and it is likely that many medication-induced abortions take place that are never counted in any statistical analysis.

Third, on Jan. 31, 2008, Judicial Watch, a public interest group, reported that documents, previously withheld by the FDA, revealed that China’s Hua Lian Pharmaceutical Company, the only manufacturer of RU-486, also manufactured a contaminated anti-leukemia drug sold in the U.S.

These contaminated anti-leukemic drugs caused a few deaths and paralysis in close to 200 Chinese patients.

According to The New York Times, in an article by Jake Hooker and Walt Bogdanich, also published on Jan. 31, 2008, RU-486 is manufactured at a plant close to the plant that manufactures the contaminated anti-leukemia medication.

Danco Labs, the subsidiary that is marketing the abortion drug in the U.S., at first refused to comment on any reports concerning the Chinese drug manufacturer.

Ultimately, according to LifeNews.com, Danco Labs did admit that an estimated 840,000 women in the U.S. have had abortions using RU-486, but they denied that any of the abortion pills they received from the Chinese manufacturer were contaminated.

Fourth, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, in an article dated Sept. 14, 2004, new package inserts for Danco Labs’ RU-486 were changed to read that there existed “the possibility of death from bacterial infection and septic shock” as a result of using RU-486.

In considering these reports and trends, which undermine the arguments put forth by pro-death forces that medically induced abortion is a consummately safe procedure, the words of St. Paul, “God is not mocked” (Gal 6:7) come to mind.

(Dr. Hans E. Geisler is a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis. He is a retired oncologist and gynecologist who recently completed advanced studies as an ethicist. He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Advisory Committee and serves on that committee’s speaker’s bureau. He may be contacted by e-mail at Geisler gynonc@msn.com.) †

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