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Apologetics Press :: Sensible Science

RU-486 and Non-surgical Abortions
by Brad Harrub, Ph.D. and Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

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On September 28, 2000, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone for sale in the United States for use to end early pregnancies (up to seven weeks after a missed menstrual period). In the approval notice, it was described as a “safe, effective, and non-invasive way” of ending a pregnancy. Known more commonly as RU-486, this pill is now the preferred form of abortion in at least fourteen countries, including Great Britain, Israel, and twelve others. It currently is marketed and available under the name Mifeprex in the United States, thanks to Chinese manufacturers. That’s right—the country that strictly limits the number of children families can have, and that reports an estimated ten million abortions each year, was awarded a multibillion dollar trade deal to produce America’s abortion pill. Mifepristone was first developed by a French pharmaceutical firm, and was approved for use in France in 1988. Since then, more than 620,000 European women have taken mifepristone, in combination with a prostaglandin, to terminate their pregnancies. [Is it mere coincidence that RU-486 was developed originally by a drug company whose parent corporation manufactured Zyklon B—the poison gas used in Nazi concentration camps to destroy millions of lives?]


Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid designed to interfere with the embryo’s ability to adhere to the uterine lining. A pregnant woman is given three, 200-milligram pills by mouth. The drug interferes with the flow of blood and nutritional elements from the wall of the uterus to the developing embryo. Deprived of life support, the embryo dies. Returning to the doctor two days later, the woman takes two, 200-microgram pills of misoprostol (a prostaglandin that induces uterine contractions), and soon after aborts the embryo. [The woman remains in the physician’s office for several hours of observation.] The prostaglandin, not the mifepristone, causes the most common side effects: vaginal bleeding, cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. The embryo may be expelled via blood clots either during the observation period or later at home or at work, but almost always is aborted within fourteen days of the treatment regimen. Women are required to return for a follow-up visit approximately fourteen days after taking the mifepristone to determine whether the pregnancy has been terminated. An RU-486 abortion costs approximately $300 (about the same as a surgical abortion) according to Advances in Health Technology, Inc., a Washington, D.C., company established to market the pill.

Misoprostol (sold under the name Arthrotec) induces uterine contractions, but was developed originally to fight arthritis. The first line in the 2001 edition of the Physician’s Desk Reference regarding Arthrotec reads: “Contraindications and Warnings: Arthrotec, because of the abortifacient property of the misoprostol component, is contraindicated in women who are pregnant” (p. 2977) The warning goes on to state that “Arthrotec should not be used in women of childbearing potential…” (p. 2977). And yet this arthritis drug is part of the deadly cocktail given to women who want a “non-surgical” abortion.


While the FDA has given its “stamp of approval,” the words “safe” and “effective” hardly are words that would be used to describe this procedure. The following list of “drawbacks” was taken from a Planned Parenthood (pro-abortion) Website.

The possible drawbacks:

  • There is a slightly greater risk of having an “incomplete” abortion when using the “abortion pill”—when this happens (maybe 4 percent of the time), the contents of the uterus are not completely shed (and the pregnancy is not ended). If it happens, women have to consent to have a “surgical” abortion to end the pregnancy completely.
  • “Non-surgical” abortions require at least three visits to a clinic or doctor’s office (instead of the two required for a surgical abortion). YOU MUST follow through with all three visits, or the abortion may not be completed and a damaged fetus might continue to develop. An abortion caused by the “abortion pill” may actually take place over several hours or days. With a “surgical abortion,” the abortion is complete when you leave the clinic, and the abortion itself takes only ten or fifteen minutes.
  • While some women experience “a greater sense of control over the process,” others actually find “non-surgical” abortion to be MORE stressful than a “surgical” abortion. For example, with the “abortion pill,” some women see small amounts of pregnancy tissue coming out of their vagina, and they may find this to be sort of traumatic (emp. added – BH/BT).


Additionally, the “abortion pill” now can be prescribed by almost any licensed doctor or nurse-practitioner (currently most “regular” doctors and nurse-practitioners cannot perform surgical abortions). In communities that do not have an abortion clinic, women often have to travel great distances for a surgical abortion, so “pro-choice” individuals view this increased availability as a victory. With the abortion pill, they may be able to obtain a non-surgical abortion from a local provider. This means that while your child’s sore throat is being cared for in exam room 1 at your family practitioner’s office, an abortion may be taking place next door in exam room 2!


Now that RU-486 has received FDA approval (and big profits are being forecast), competitors are looking for substances that produce the same effects. Methotrexate is a prescription drug that was developed in the fight against cancer. Used in combination with misoprostol, it also causes an abortion. As with RU-486, a methotrexate abortion requires three visits to a clinic or doctor’s office. During the first visit, methotrexate is given in the form of a shot. Then, a week later during a second clinic visit, the misoprostol is administered as a pill or in suppository form (the suppository is a capsule that is inserted deep inside the vagina, where it dissolves). After this, the uterus contracts and the baby is expelled. A third visit to the clinic is necessary to confirm that an abortion has taken place. If a complete abortion has not occurred (which happens in about four percent of the cases), the woman then must have a surgical abortion to prevent the development of a damaged fetus (and related problems). Currently the FDA has approved methotrexate for use as a cancer treatment. It is widely available in the United States, but not all health-care providers are willing to use it for abortions. This procedure is still relatively new and extremely controversial.


While many women are quick to celebrate the legality of RU-486 as a means of getting women “out of the stirrups” and “into their own homes,” it does not change the fact that both surgical and non-surgical procedures end a baby’s life. Whether by pill or curette, innocent lives are being extinguished. Embryos are living human beings! According to Paul Marx, the United Nations estimates that there are some 55 million abortions performed annually throughout the world (Abortion International, n.d., p. 1). On January 22, 1973, the nine justices that form the Supreme Court of the United States voted (in a seven-to-two decision) to allow abortion as a legal method of destroying unwanted babies. Subsequent to that edict, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, reported the number of infants slain by abortion to be approximately 1.5 million each year—more than all the American lives lost in the almost 200 years of wars since our country’s inception. In fact, in the unpopular 11-year Vietnam war, over 58,000 Americans lost their lives, yet this country’s medical profession, via abortion, kills more than that in any given 11 days!

If a person shoots an eagle—the symbol of our country—the judicial system will throw him in prison and toss away the key. That same system will stop a multi-million dollar dam in the state of Tennessee to save an inch-long snail-darter fish, or fly the President of the United States to the northwest sector of America to discuss the fate of a spotted owl. Yet should someone wish to destroy the human baby growing inside the mother’s womb, such an act will be looked upon not only as entirely within that person’s rights as an American citizen, but as perfectly legal.

It sometimes is suggested that abortion does not constitute taking human life. To those who offer such a suggestion I ask: What is growing in the mother’s womb? It is the result of the union of the human male sperm and human female egg—which guarantees its “humanness.” And there can be no doubt that it is alive; if it is not, then leave it alone! “Oh, but we cannot do that,” abortionists argue. Why not? Because in nine months the result will be a living, human child! Abortion—all the disclaimers of its proponents notwithstanding—is the cold-blooded murder of a God-given life. And no rhetoric on the part of pro-abortion forces ever can change that fact.

While the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty for hardened criminals, it simultaneously imposed that same penalty upon multiplied millions who never had committed a single crime. Their only “crime” was that they were not “perfect,” or that they threatened to arrive at an “inconvenient” time. These tiny infants, still in the womb, are murdered by techniques more cruel, more vicious, and more inhumane than any thus far devised by even Hollywood’s worst gut-wrenching horror movies. These deaths occur in abortion clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals around the world. The conspirators in this atrocity include potential mothers, consenting doctors, whining advocates of “planned parenthood,” and approving judges. We lead western civilization in many areas, yet we have come to the point where life is so cheap that hospitals have been turned into slaughter houses, doctors have been turned into butchers, and our own children have been turned into “blobs of tissue” to be excised and unceremoniously dumped in the local landfill. We abhor from a distance the unspeakable crimes of Adolf Hitler as he murdered six million Jewish men, women, and children. Yet in our own land we snuff out the lives of countless millions far more defenseless than they. The announcement of an unwanted pregnancy, or one that likely will produce a less-than-perfect child, often is met with sheer hysteria. Years of having been taught evolution as a fact have taken their toll. Convinced that man is nothing but a “naked ape,” the value of human life has diminished. After all, they shoot horses, don’t they? And now the violence spawned by such thinking has reached even into the womb itself in what must be one of the most despicable of all acts—murder of the helpless!

Abortion is a violation of biblical morality, and should be opposed by every faithful child of God. The Proverbs writer stated: “There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto Him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood” (6:16-17, emp. added). What blood could be more innocent than that of a tiny infant not yet fresh from the womb?


Abortion International (n.d.), (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control).

Physicians’ Desk Reference (2001), (Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics), fifty-fifth edition.

Copyright © 2001 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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