Abortion pill now available nationwide

K.C. Howard

The abortion pill also known as RU-486 is available in the United States today under the brand name Mifeprex.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Sept. 28 approval of the controversial drug takes effect today, but it will not be distributed in metro area clinics until early January.
The pill, which produces uterine contractions that induce spontaneous abortion, can only be used within the first 49 days of the pregnancy. It will not be found at many public universities because of the extensive FDA provisions that accompany its distribution.
Students interested in purchasing Mifeprex will have to visit clinics outside the University, said David Golden, director of public health for Boynton Health Service.
“Given all the expense and changes that would have to be made to the clinic, and the fact that it would be available in other places that could do a better job than us, we opted not to carry the drug,” Golden said.
Clinics that choose to recommend the drug to patients must be able to assess the duration of pregnancy accurately, to diagnose ectopic pregnancies, and to provide surgical intervention in case of incomplete abortions or severe bleeding.
Metro area clinics like Planned Parenthood will not be ready to administer the pill until early January. Excessive amounts of paperwork and policy preparation accompany the distribution of the pill, said Paula Rock, nurse practitioner and spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood will offer the pill Jan. 1, but only at its Highland Clinic in St. Paul, Rock said.
Other Minneapolis clinics that will distribute the pill in early January include Mildred S. Hanson, MD; Meadowbrook Women’s Clinic; Robbinsdale Clinic and Midwest Health Center for Women.
The price of the pill has yet to be determined, but a representative from Mildred S. Hanson, MD estimated that the entire process — which constitutes three pills, two ultrasounds, several peremptory tests and three clinic visits — would be about $600.
This price exceeds the cost of a surgical abortion, which falls between $375 and $420 at Planned Parenthood.
“The big myth is that this is a simple little pill,” said Rock, who spoke about some of the misconceptions surrounding the pill:
“There is bleeding. There is cramping. There is vomiting. It is uncomfortable. It is unpleasant.”
Despite the drug’s cost and side effects, women tend to prefer the drug to surgical abortions, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The pill allows women to terminate pregnancy in the privacy of their homes without the risk of infection from surgery, Rock said.
Mifeprex must be taken within the first 49 days of pregnancy. That count starts at the beginning of the woman’s last menstrual cycle.
Pro-life advocates said they are worried women will underestimate the pill’s side effects and see it as an easy way to terminate pregnancy.
Colleen Tronson, executive director of Metro Women’s Center for crisis counseling, said that regardless of how the abortion occurs, a woman may encounter the same psychological postabortion symptoms.
She said many women experience depression, anger and guilt years after an abortion.
“I have had three abortions,” Tronson said, “and there is nothing in pro-choice literature that prepares women for what they feel after.”

K.C. Howard welcomes comments at [email protected]