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It's about time.
September 28, 2000 9:34 AM   Subscribe

It's about time. (More inside)
posted by Steven Den Beste (21 comments total)

 
RU-486 has been the radical anti-abortion movement's nightmare for a long time, because it means they no longer have a small number of concentrated targets to protest at (clinics), and can no longer harass the women trying to get abortions (because they can't identify them any more). What are they going to do, stake out every pharmacy in the US and talk to every woman getting a prescription filled?

That's why they've been fighting it so hard. A woman can get an abortion now without having to run a gauntlet of people screaming "Babykiller!" at her. She can, finally, take care of it privately and without harassment, as should always have been the case.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:41 AM on September 28, 2000


"Take care of it"... What an utterly chilling way to phrase that, like deciding to put Oxy-5 on a zit. One hopes this hypothetical woman will pause at least momentarily to consider exactly what it is she'll be flushing down that toilet, Steven.

(For the record, I'm neither pro- nor anti-abortion; I'm a man, so I'll never have to make that choice and usually consider it inappropriate for me to participate in that debate. I do not, however, think that abortion should be considered to be "just another woman's health option," like other methods that could be used to prevent the unwanted pregnancy in the first place...)
posted by m.polo at 9:47 AM on September 28, 2000


Oh, ghod; here comes another 70-comment monster...
posted by baylink at 10:06 AM on September 28, 2000


Kang: Abortions for all. [crowd boos]
Very well, no abortions for anyone. [crowd boos]
Hmm... Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.
[crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]

posted by thirteen at 10:15 AM on September 28, 2000


Not to rain on anyones parade - but the RU-486 is not something one would want to take care of "privately" ( I assume you mean at home). This will have you screaming in cramps and agony for the next ten hours and you will want a nurse at hand to help you cope with the pain and make sure that everything is going according to plan. You are "giving birth", and you shouldn't do it without some medical supervision. Seriously.



posted by dabitch at 10:21 AM on September 28, 2000


It's *not* giving birth. It's probably more like a natural miscarriage, which when happens as early in the pregnancy as an abortion would (RU-486 isn't viable after I believe ten weeks), often can't be easily differentiated from a more-or-less normal menstrual period.

There is a Medical Abortion FAQ on the Population Council's website.

And for purely anecdotal refutation of dabitch's endless-hours-of-agony claim, see this Salon story from last week about an American woman who was allowed to abort using RU-486 at home.

Which is not to say that this drug is 100% safe in every and all circumstances, but I don't think any drug is. In any event, I'd rather have what seems to amount to an induced miscarriage than have someone putting knives and vacuums into my body.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:15 AM on September 28, 2000


Let's see if I can summarize it up.

Some people: "Abortions are terrible!"
Other people: "Choice matters"
all people: "Hiss hiss"
peanut gallery: "I'll just make a witty post, summing it up right near the beginning!"
all people: "Shut up, peanut gallery! Hiss!"
posted by cCranium at 11:18 AM on September 28, 2000


To ensure the pill is used accurately and safely, the FDA mandated that women be given special brochures called "MedGuides" explaining who is eligible for a pill-caused abortion and what side effects to expect, and that they must make three trips to the doctor to undergo the procedure.

The FDA will allow mifepristone to be distributed only to doctors trained to accurately diagnose the duration of pregnancy

Also, the FDA restricted mifepristone's use to doctors who can operate in case a surgical abortion is needed to finish the job or in cases of severe bleeding — or to doctors who have made advance arrangements for a surgeon to provide such care to their patients.

This means that that those people who will kill doctors who perform abortions in order to make sure someone has an unwanted child will still be able to harass women.

It also means lots of hoops women will have to jump through. Not to mention the expense if the free clinic doesn't qualify.
posted by terrapin at 11:54 AM on September 28, 2000


The unnecessary hurdles slapped on what should really be a straightforward procedure are unfortunate, but at least the door is open now. Maybe next we can get it cracked a bit wider.

In any case, it's a safer, less invasive option, and that's always a good thing.

Lots safer than childbirth, too...

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2000


Yes, I'm for 86 too!
posted by skallas at 12:52 PM on September 28, 2000


Yeah, I don't think that the drug was deveoped for political reasons, and any potential benefits in that arena are merely side effects. The rigamarole factor should actually be about the same. It was designed to be safer and less invasive than a surgical abortion, which it is. It is not really a pro-anti issue at all. Trying to make it one is like vegetarians objecting to the George Foreman grill specifically rather than meat-eating in general.
posted by donkeymon at 12:52 PM on September 28, 2000


Trying to make it one is like vegetarians objecting to the George Foreman grill specifically rather than meat-eating in general.

It's when I read comments like that, that I know why I never, ever take part in discussions on abortion.
posted by holgate at 2:23 PM on September 28, 2000


One of the things about this that no-one so far has commented on is that RU-486 has other clinical uses besides inducing end of pregnancy. I don't remember the details, but I know that some of the uses were rather surprising. It happens to be a very important drug in a lot of ways. Not every prescription for the stuff will result in a (what amounts to a) miscarriage.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2000


Sapphireblue, you're right - it is more like a natural misscarriage, the endless hours of agony though are pretty real for *some* women who take it. I've taken the RU-486 and I was in pain - whan I wasn't knocked out by whatever painkiller, for ten hours, in a hospital with nurses there to help so I wouldn't be alone. Of course - as with any drug most people react differently to it. Some may only experience "mild discomfort" perhaps.
posted by dabitch at 5:14 PM on September 28, 2000


Thanks for telling your story. Knowing it's a first person account gives it a great deal more credibility than it initially appeared (and we're grateful for your honesty).
posted by dhartung at 5:32 PM on September 28, 2000


*phew* Thanks dhartung - I was afraid I would get nasty comments after that. In Sweden - where I am from, the drug has been legal for a few years now.
posted by dabitch at 5:42 PM on September 28, 2000


dabitch: ouch. I'm sorry it happened to you. I did think it important to point out that an experience like that wouldn't be the norm---at least that's the sense I have gotten from all I've read, and if I'm wrong, I'd surely like to know about it, and would like other women to know about it too... so let me second dhartung's appreciation for your sharing with us.

(i hope you didn't feel insulted or trivialized by my first post, either. I don't know if this particular debate is so heated in Sweden, but the phrasing of your warning was amazingly similar to abortion-kills-women anti-choice propaganda, American-style.)
posted by Sapphireblue at 5:59 PM on September 28, 2000


No worries Sapphireblue, I see when I re-read what I wrote what you mean on how my message sounded. I wasn't even sure if I should post anything as I can't really understand the width of the american abortion issue.
To me it's a medical debate - and women should know what they are taking like you say.
Drugs go through amazing amounts of testing before being allowed in Sweden - here Sudafed is not legal. When RU-486 was finally cleared for use I was still in doubt - having read some horror stories about women with low blood pressure reacting very badly to it.
We have barely any abortiondebate in Sweden, since it's been legal for, well, forever (1974 I think). But the numbers of abortions made by very young women (teenagers) - and repeat abortions rose dramatically a few years back and the debate then raged about how to prevent this, with following media hype as condoms were being tossed around in schools.

In any case - I'll never be doing anything like that again. But If I had to - for whatever reason lets not get into that - I'd probably opt for the surgery, just because I'd rather not be "awake" and aware the way I was.
posted by dabitch at 6:18 PM on September 28, 2000


Our Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion happened in 1973. Three years longer than I've been alive, and I can't remember a time when it wasn't a Big Effin' Deal. In fact, I got kicked out of a speech contest sponsored by the local Catholic high school when I was in the seventh grade, so I was 11 or 12, for having written an impassioned pro-choice manifesto---so for me it really *has* sort of always been there. I can't remember the genesis of my awareness of the issue; I suppose I just grew up with it.

I can see your point about being awake. Once upon a time, I made a similar choice: didn't go with my first choice of a clinic because they didn't put you under; I was not interested in watching it happen. The doctor I did go with was so warm, reassuring, and gentle, that I went back for quite some time for regular gyn care... but going back was always a little tough. The equipment that sat idle in the exam rooms during my visits over the next couple of years looked terribly sinister, even though for all I know, those same tools and machines had been in every doctor's examination room I'd ever been in all my life.

I can see advantages to going the surgical route, but boy, a pill seems to me an awful lot less threatening. ah well---as I've said before, no one ever had an abortion thinking it would be a walk in the park.

(and now if any slanderous comments are to be made, they'll have to make them of both of us.)
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:57 PM on September 28, 2000


I certainly hope no one is stupid enough to even think of making a slanderous comment.
posted by thirteen at 11:14 PM on September 28, 2000


In any case , it's good that the option is there, while the pill can be very painful for some, it is still a better option than surgery in the cases when it has only been a few weeks, for surgery you would have to wait until six weeks, and waiting is not always an option fo the woman in question. And like you say - it's never going to be a walk in the park, but what is usually drowned out when going anywhere near this subject is no matter what way it is done - it is a difficult decision, and no woman feels good about having to make it.

Sapphireblue, I think like thirteen, there will be no slanderous comments now. I applaud your guts for writing such a manifesto when so young - and when going to Catholic school!
posted by dabitch at 8:00 AM on September 29, 2000


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