BY FREDDY GRAY
AMERICAN bishops have reiterated their condemnation of the RU-486 abortion pill after the drug was suspected of causing the deaths of two more women, taking the adult death toll from medical abortions in the United States to 10.
Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for the American Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to withdraw its "flawed" approval of RU-486 and "protect women's lives".
She said: "According to the New England Journal of Medicine, RU-486 abortions are 10 times more likely to kill a woman, from infection alone, than are surgical abortions in early pregnancy. "How many more healthy women must die before the agency takes a close second look at RU-486?"
The USFDA confirmed last week that two women had died "following medical abortion with tnifepristone [RU-486l".
It is estimated that, as well as killing 10 women, the medical abortion procedure has also seriously injured a further 850.
The news has prompted European pro-life agencies to urge European countries — including Britain —to consider the dangers of RU-486 before legalising "DIY abortion", where women abort at home after taking the drug.
"Our country legalised abortion to bring it out from the backstreets and to safeguard women's health," said Michaela O'Sullivan, a spokes
woman for Life, a pro-life counselling charity. "It is a cruel imny, therefore, that proabortion groups and our own Government are considering whether women should be encouraged to abort in their backroom with potentially lethal consequences.
'This drug seeks to facilitate an unnecessary and damaging choice which women have paid for with their lives. How can this practice be described as a victory for women?"
Warnings from pro-life activists may come too late for Australian women after their government last month abandoned regulatory control of RU-486 despite strong protests from the Catholic Church.
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney said that the harmful effects of the abortion pill "cannot be airbrushed out of existence" and added that the vast majority of Australians — 87 per cent according to one survey — opposed the move.
But the Australian parliament ignoredcomplaints and voted in favour of transferring control of the pill from the Health Authori to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the organisation that manages prescription drugs.
In response, more than 200 Catholic doctors resigned from the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
Dr Terence Kent. president of the Medical Guild of St Luke, described the use of RU486 as "very bad medical practice". In Britain, the Government is considering the pill as a standard abortion method after a study published last month claimed that RU486 was safe.
The charity Life rejected the study and said that the Government supported the move because the abortion pill is considerably cheaper than normal procedures.
RU-486, or mifepristone, was manufactured in France, where it became legal in 1988. The drug induces an abortion in the first seven weeks of pregnancy when used in conjunction with another drug, prostaglandin. Mifepristone prevents the fertilised egg becoming attached to the uterine wall, and prostaglandin is taken 48 hours later to set off contractions that expel the unborn child.