The Abortion Pill


By David Alton

Universe Column for July 27th 2003

Not content with almost 600 abortions every working day, the pro-abortion lobby are now calling for women to be allowed to complete so-called ‘medical abortions’ at home.

Don’t be fooled that this arises out of concern for women’s health and welfare. Far from it. The pro-abortionists are worried. Growing numbers of doctors, particularly the newly qualified, are refusing to participate in surgical abortions in hospitals. For some, the practice is considered beneath their status as doctors. Others, particularly young Christian and Muslim doctors, are exercising the right of conscientious objection.

No wonder the abortion lobby wants to see a change in the law to allow medical staff other than doctors and women themselves to administer medical rather than surgical abortions.

Medical abortion using the ‘abortion pill’ RU486 involves taking two doses of separate drugs that induce a miscarriage.  It is accompanied by extremely heavy bleeding, severe cramping, nausea and vomiting. Also, according to a spokesman for the manufacturer, Roussel Uclaf, “there is considerable pain attached to the procedure”. Other potential side effects include cardiac arrest and frequent incomplete abortions.

In 2002 the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to all healthcare professionals about the dangers of taking the abortion pill, particularly if the pregnancy is ectopic.

If abortion does have to take place, then surely all stages of the abortion should be conducted in an approved medical environment where medical assistance will be on hand immediately if required.

If women were allowed to complete medical abortions at home or at locations other than licensed medical establishments, what help will be available to the woman when her dead unborn child is expelled from her womb? What is she to do with her dead unborn child? What help will be on hand if she suffers heavy bleeding? Many women will worry about whether the procedure will work. (For up to one in ten women, it does not.) Many women will be inevitably plagued with questions about whether the unborn child is alive or dead, or suffering at any particular moment.

While there may be reasons for increasing the availability of, and access to, potentially life-saving or life-extending drugs, (such as in the case of AIDS treatments) no such reasons apply here. RU-486 is clearly intended only for non-therapeutic, elective abortions. There is no health crisis demanding this treatment. Women already have access to surgical abortion, which abortion proponents insist is already safe, effective, and inexpensive.

Now is the moment to write to Dr John Reid MP, the Secretary of State for Health (at the House of Commons, London SW1A OAA), seeking assurance that the Government has no intention of extending the “class of places” under the Abortion Act 1967 (as amended) where abortions can be carried out in order to allow women to complete medical abortions at home. To accede to the abortion lobby’s demands  would be a dangerous and retrograde step.

Rather than seeking to increase access to and availability of abortion – and calls to extend it to Northern Ireland is another example of this – we should be developing policies to reduce the appalling number of abortions that take place in Great Britain each year.