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RU-ready for the next 4 years?
November 18, 2004 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Congress plans to reintroduce RU-486 suspension. After only three deaths in an estimated 360,000 uses, the GOP-led Congress plans to reintroduce a bill to "temporarily suspend" sales of RU-486 so it can be more thoroughly investigated. With a maternal death rate in the US of 12 per 100,000, RU-486 is about 13-14 times safer than a full term pregancy. Of course, the solution is simple: suspend all pregnancies for a year so we can more fully evaluate their safety.
posted by u.n. owen (119 comments total)

 
Never quite understood the 'conservitive' mind WRT abortions.

Abortions are BAD. (ok fine) But so is making sure the resulting born are paid for, taken care of, and grow up so they can become productive wage slaves.

Abortion -> no child the state has to spend money on.
No Abortion -> the state has to pay money to support the child.

For a group that claims they want to reduce state spending, abortion looks like a winner.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:41 AM on November 18, 2004


By your logic, conservatives should favor a gunshot to the head for all sick or retired people.
posted by callmejay at 11:47 AM on November 18, 2004


That's fine and dandy -- except that faith-based dogma is, by definition, not the product of logical analysis.

Sincerely, Redundancy Man.
posted by DaShiv at 11:47 AM on November 18, 2004


I'd like to reduce our prison population. But I'm not willing to dismember elementary school bullies in order to accomplish this.

Analogy is hard..
posted by Plutor at 11:47 AM on November 18, 2004


The FDA just issued a warning on RU-486—the drug used to cause medical abortions—after two women died from secondary infections after taking the pill to end their pregnancies. But the FDA waited until about 27,000 people had died from heart attacks and strokes while taking arthritis drug Vioxx before pulling that drug. Why the discrepancy?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:50 AM on November 18, 2004


Votes against abortion should be required to also increase social welfare spending.
posted by waldo at 11:55 AM on November 18, 2004


Don't you just love when inflexible dogma gets in the way of helping people!
posted by Bag Man at 11:56 AM on November 18, 2004


*deleted string of profanity*
U.S. Out Of My Uterus!
posted by obloquy at 12:00 PM on November 18, 2004


Jesus. This was already "studied" for twelve years during a period when it was safe and available in Europe. More people have died taking any designer drug advertised on television.

Feigning medical concerns to push partisan politics- this is absolutely disgusting.

And meanwhile....
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:06 PM on November 18, 2004


After the complete failure of my liberal brothers and sisters to vote Bush out on November 2nd I so don't give a damn about abortion. I live in a blue city in a blue state... where regardless of what the dumb shit conservatives do elsewhere we will continue to preserve a woman's right to choose.

So whatever.

These people have proven that they don't understand things like gun locks until it's their own kid who is accidently shot in the face... they obviously won't understand abortion rights until their own daughters die in back alley coat hanger clinics.

Stupid fuckers.
posted by wfrgms at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2004


After the complete failure of my liberal brothers and sisters to vote Bush out on November 2nd I so don't give a damn about abortion. I live in a blue city in a blue state... where regardless of what the dumb shit conservatives do elsewhere we will continue to preserve a woman's right to choose.

Well, you know, it's a good thing this is all about you.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:13 PM on November 18, 2004


This is only the beginning. Within a couple of years a new Supreme Court dominated by Bush appointees will have outlawed abortion, or at least thrown it back to the states, many of which will immediately outlaw it.

Abortion is the focus issue which has led to the ascendance of the religious right. Once they have outlawed it, it will be interesting to see whether their coalition holds together, or crumbles for lack of a single issue to rally around.
posted by wadefranklin at 12:23 PM on November 18, 2004


The FDA itself says that they don't believe that at least two of those 3 deaths were due to the drug. Not that the FDA has become less than worthless as an organization anyway- and the guy Bush wants to have head the Reproductive Health Drugs  Advisory Committee, W. David Hager, is such a nut-job that Snopes has to explain that it's not just an urban legend.
*descends back into spitting profanity*
posted by obloquy at 12:24 PM on November 18, 2004


Nevermind the fact that something on the order of 1600 women die around the world DAILY from complications related to pregnancy (WHO) - let's perpetuate the myth that pregnancy is an "easy" process that makes you a complete human being, because God knows you're not a complete person as a lowly woman until you have spawned.

I'm waiting on the permission slips to visit the doctor, personally.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:34 PM on November 18, 2004


Surely some organization would be willing to mail-order the drug from Canada and make it available to women who need it. Simply because something's underground doesn't mean that it has to be unsafe.

Once upon a time, NOW would fly women to New York city if they needed an abortion and they couldn't get one locally. They'd put the woman up ina hotel overnight and fly her back.

This is why I shake my head at the idea of the US banning abortion. Most of the US population is within a six-hour drive (or $100 bus ride) from either Canada or Mexico. All an abortion ban in the US will do is to make abortion a growth industry in those two countries, just as it was in The Netherlands for the longest time, with boatloads of Irish women ferried over twice weekly.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:40 PM on November 18, 2004


>>Well, you know, it's a good thing this is all about you.

XQUZYPHYR, I'm not saying it's about me... I'm just saying that these people are so dense that they won't learn until it happens to them. They have all forgotten the horrors of the pre-Roe v Wade era... maybe the need RvW to be overturned as a reminder of why pro-choice is a good thing.

Same thing with the New Deal - these fucking white trash conservatives won't realize that government is about more than business and the military till they have to spend a few hours waiting in line at the soup kitchen after they loose their jobs at the screen door factory.

Personally, I'm more concerned about first tier issues like the economy, the war in Iraq and healthcare. It's called having priorities.

Plus, I know how to wrap my willie. Unlike those abstinence only fuckers...
posted by wfrgms at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2004


wfrgms: Maybe you don't get it.

When they suspend the sales of a drug, they don't only do it in red states.

obloquy: One of the deaths was assuredly the fault of an incompetent, stupid doctor who prescribed it during an ectopic pregnancy. Doctors need to check for ectopic pregnancy prior to prescribing the drug. Malpractice happens regardless of the drug.

mrgrimm: One also has to wonder how many suicide deaths are attributable directly to side effects of anti-depressants.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2004


regardless of what the dumb shit conservatives do elsewhere we will continue to preserve a woman's right to choose.

not if they pass a national law outlawing abortion, and a newly configured SCOTUS deems it constitutional. wake up, dude.

they're now calling the RU-486 Suspension and Review Act of 2003 Holly's Law. awwwww.

If airplanes were as dangerous as RU-486 no reasonable woman would ever fly.

cars are certainly much more dangerous than RU-486, and i still see assholes driving around.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on November 18, 2004


Why do childless urbanites get so enraged when someone tries to stop them from killing babies?

It's like no one else can have an opinion because they live in a shitty 400 square foot apt. in the East Village.
posted by orange clock at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2004


wfrgms, are you aware that "wrapping your willie" is a fairly ineffective form of contraception? You'd better hope your sexual partners are better protected than that. Condoms are disease prevention, not pregnancy prevention.

And it must be awfully nice for someone with a willy to wrap to tell women that their priorities shouldn't be about their own bodies and reproductive rights.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2004


solid-one-love, that's great, provided that women can pay for the trip as well as the procedure when they go out of country.
posted by agregoli at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2004


orange clock: I live in a stop-light red county in a red state. I am not an "urbanite." I intend to have a child, perhaps two, in the next five to ten years.

I use depo-provera, one of the most effective methods of contraception developed. If I got pregnant now, though, an abortion would be my best/only option. Being pregnant when I've just landed my dream job with the possibilities of great promotions would sacrifice my future - and potential kids' future. I want to have kids when I am financially and emotionally ready to handle them.

Why do pro-lifers get so enraged and start stereotyping any time someone wants to keep their freedoms? It's like no one else can have an opinion because the invisible man in the sky says so.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:46 PM on November 18, 2004


or at least thrown it back to the states, many of which will immediately outlaw it.

More details here (PDF).
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on November 18, 2004


agregoli: as I said, NOW used to fly women to New York. Surely some organization could raise the money to bus a woman to Tijuana.

orange clock: to be fair, RU-486 is a drug meant to prevent the implantation of an embryo, so it's not an issue of "killing babies". Good troll, though: you hit three different hot buttons with that. I was planning on waiting until I'd made a hundred posts before coming out from under the bridge, but I've always been shy.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:47 PM on November 18, 2004


mrgrimm: It's worth noting that giving birth is 2000 times more dangerous than flying. And in some countries, 20,000 times more dangerous.

But women have been doing that for a pretty long time and show no indication of stopping. Funny what manipulation of statistics gets asshole senators, ain't it?
posted by u.n. owen at 12:48 PM on November 18, 2004


solid-one-love, you're confusing RU-486 with the "morning after pill." RU-486 is indeed an abortion pill usable in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Please don't disseminate misinformation. RU-486 is the same as a first trimester D&C, but with fewer risks and (some say) more convenient.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2004


as I said, NOW used to fly women to New York. Surely some organization could raise the money to bus a woman to Tijuana.


Surely some organization could. That's not the point. All this costs money, people need to know it's available, have it set up, etc. Also, what about the poor youngsters that just can't hide the fact that they have to take an out-of-country trip?

It's not really a solution.
posted by agregoli at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2004


This is stupid, if only because less RU-486 pregnancy terminations means more later on in pregancy, which is worse.

My guess is that this bill will go nowhere.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:51 PM on November 18, 2004


agregoli: They could always settle for the poor man's abortion.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:52 PM on November 18, 2004


Parisparamus: No, it'll lead to more first-trimester D&C's, which are more costly and have a greater risk of death associated with them (though still below the maternal death rate, it's worth noting).

Basically the message is: if you're going to get an abortion, you'd better be willing to shell out cash. It's a privilege for the wealthy.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:53 PM on November 18, 2004


are you aware that "wrapping your willie" is a fairly ineffective form of contraception?

98% effectiveness with proper use sounds pretty effective to me. And that's just the simple physical block provided by the latex. Add in spermicide, and you've got something close to perfect.

I could also argue that Christianity itself stands as evidence that abstinence isn't one hundred percent effective, either...
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on November 18, 2004


Very few people use condoms completely effectively. A loss of erection during sex renders them entirely useless, as does staying in too long after ejaculation, as does not checking for tears or holes in the heat of the moment before putting them on...the statistics for realistic use are fairly not-good.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2004


I'm waiting on the permission slips to visit the doctor, personally.

HMO much?
posted by rushmc at 12:57 PM on November 18, 2004


It's not really a solution.

It was a solution in the past. Why is it not a potential solution now? NOW did things that were expressly illegal (shuttling underage women out of state without parental permission) then. Why not now?

What I'm implying by bringing this up is that fighting to prevent such bans from occurring are, for the next four years, of extremely limited utility. Effort would better be spent working on ways to circumvent these bans.

u.n.owen: fair enough, but I've been reading that RU-486 is often used as a morning-after pill and in some areas that's what its primary use is.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:57 PM on November 18, 2004


PP: While I agree with your reasoning on the first part, I don't see that the second part follows. Because I think you're missing a point: That to pro-lifers, any compromise is too much compromise. And applying logic like that you just fielded is, to them, a compromise. They won't be satisfied until anything that can be construed as an abortion is murder. The big question for the next ideological frontier is whether condoms and diaphragms count as "pre-emptive abortion"....
posted by lodurr at 1:00 PM on November 18, 2004


solid-one-love: it can be used as emergency contraception, but saying that's its only use just leaves you open and vulnerable to pro-life attack. :)
posted by u.n. owen at 1:01 PM on November 18, 2004


It was a solution in the past.

Well, no, it wasn't: A lot of women went to back-alley shops and got hurt or died for it. It was a tactic, not a solution. It was probably an effective tactic, but by itself, would have done nothing but ameliorate injustice; it did nothing to bring about change.
posted by lodurr at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2004


lodurr: well, now that conscience clauses let pharmacists decide that contraception is murder, I'm sure condoms and diaphragm sales will soon be cut off.

After all, sex for non-procreative purposes is a sin, and most people using that stuff probably aren't married or anything!
posted by u.n. owen at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2004


Men suck for telling women what to f***ing do with their own bodies. Why don't men endorse male sterilization techniques? Oh, wait, that would put a stop to the cockrod.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2004


Here's a fun idea.

Sure, let's have parental notification.

But if a parent, when notified, refuses to allow their minor child to get an abortion, they have to sign papers that say they will become the new baby's legal guardian for the next 18 years if the girl doesn't want it after the birth.

If a girl doesn't have the choice on whether to continue the pregnancy, she surely shouldn't be saddled with the burden on her life of having to take care of a baby.
posted by u.n. owen at 1:05 PM on November 18, 2004


Of course, the solution is simple: suspend all pregnancies for a year so we can more fully evaluate their safety.

There's a big difference between death from natural causes and death from a medical intervention.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:08 PM on November 18, 2004


I think that the first few paragraphs of the letter from Holly Patterson's parents sum up the type of situation we could expect if abortion was made illegal. A large part of the problem there seems to have been the secrecy and lack of proper medical care, not the actual drug.

Poor Holly.
posted by different at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2004


Yep, not a solution. We can work to circumvent, but this, for example, will come no where near close enough to helping the people who REALLY need help, not to mention being completely unable to help ENOUGH people who really need it.
posted by agregoli at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2004


Good troll, though: you hit three different hot buttons with that. I was planning on waiting until I'd made a hundred posts before coming out from under the bridge, but I've always been shy.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:47 PM PST on November 18


NOTICE: Disagree with solid-one-love and prepare to be disregarded as troll.
posted by orange clock at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2004


eustacescrubb: So women who die after caesareans (medical intervention for sure - and still more risky than RU-486) are still eligible for more-dangerous status, in your book?
posted by u.n. owen at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2004


I actually don't have an HMO that tells me what doctor I can see. And I don't need referrals for "specialists" such as my gynecologist. But I can see it comin' down the tracks, permission slips for my husband to sign so I can go see the lady-doctor.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2004


If Roe v. Wade is overturned, I would love to see Canada (and other countries) publicly welcome American women needing to travel for their abortions. I know it would be not be practical for many American women to go to Canada, since women often cite economic hardship as a reason for terminating pregnancy, but it would be a great relief to know that the option is there. As an added bonus, it would really piss off the wing-nuts.
posted by apis mellifera at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2004


Somewhere, Vera Drake is crying.
posted by orange clock at 1:16 PM on November 18, 2004


On a side note, Congress has apparently decided it's necessary to label the abortion pill, but it's needless and unnecessary to label food.

Amazing.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2004


Being pregnant when I've just landed my dream job with the possibilities of great promotions would sacrifice my future

I've always harbored a strange suspicion that a good percentage of anti-abortionists aren't actually against the concept of abortion, but instead the idea of female empowerment. Quit being such an uppity fee-male. You don't belong in the workforce, anyway, unless it's doing standard female roles I can understand like serving me coffee or answering the phone (because Lawd knows how much you fee-males like to gab!)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2004


Jesus this thread is depressing. Even the people who agree can't agree. America now officially sucks.
posted by fungible at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2004


u.n. owen: If they die because of the cesarean, yes.

I'm not really for making the pill illegal, but neither am I for making bad analogies.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:32 PM on November 18, 2004


Well, no, it wasn't

For you to suggest that it wasn't a solution would require that you deny the fact that the NOW air shuttles ever occurred. They did occur. They offered a solution, and it was used. It was the best and safest solution at the time, even if it wasn't available to all.

That people had back-alley abortions does not mitigate or alter the fact that it was a working solution. People have back-alley abortions *today*. Not everyone can be helped *today*. No solution will help everyone.

It's typically helpful to offer alternatives along with criticism. What are yours?

orange clock: no, label abortion in a loaded way, say, as "killing babies" and deride all pro-choice folks as childless urbanites and be labelled as a troll. Several folks have disagreed with me in this thread. And yet you're the only one I'm writing off. Have a lovely afternoon.

apis: our views mesh like the gears of a Swiss watch.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:38 PM on November 18, 2004


Why do childless urbanites get so enraged when someone tries to stop them from killing babies?

Why do asshole, whitetrash hicks from the sticks think they know what's best for everyone?

Why do you hate mothers so much?
posted by bshort at 1:48 PM on November 18, 2004


RU-486 is about 13-14 times safer than a full term pregancy
I may be interpreting this badly, but this seems like poor logic. Any logicians want to clue me in on why?

That's not to say that I don't think this is politically motivated. ;)
posted by hoborg at 1:50 PM on November 18, 2004


It's not poor logic, hoborg.

Pregnancy has always been and is still a dangerous thing for women. Complications do arise, no matter what you try to do to prevent them. While the maternal death rate is a tenth of what it used to be at the turn of the 20th century, it is still at 12 per 100,000. There are just a lot of things to go wrong.

One of the reasons Roe v. Wade allowed for unrestricted first trimester abortions is that they are in fact safer than birth.
posted by u.n. owen at 2:09 PM on November 18, 2004


(Now, if I'd compared the three RU-486 deaths to the hundreds of thousands of deaths-in-childbirth since the dawn of time, that'd be something else entirely)
posted by u.n. owen at 2:10 PM on November 18, 2004


It's not a GOOD solution. Is that better? You seem to think it's the best thing out there, and that if other countries welcomed Americans needing abortions, that things would be hunky dory.

Most people wouldn't be able to take advantage of it, whether NOW paid for it or not. That's my point.
posted by agregoli at 2:12 PM on November 18, 2004


if you're going to get an abortion, you'd better be willing to shell out cash. It's a privilege for the wealthy.

just like the rest of US health care already is, anyway.

I still remember a former girlfriend's bill for a very routine medical examination and an antibiotics prescription at a South Beach emergency room -- it was about 400 US $, 4 years ago. antibiotics not included, she had to drive to a nearby Walgreens and buy them there, of course
posted by matteo at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2004


I have a fear that if RU-486 is banned here there will be a definite underground market, complete with bad drugs. I wouldn't even be surprised to see far-right groups market fake RU-486, either to hurt women who want an abortion or to just cost them unnecessary money and time.
posted by u.n. owen at 2:22 PM on November 18, 2004


Sit and drink pennyroyal tea.
posted by orange clock at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2004


I hope that's just a lyric reference, cause Pennyroyal tea is neither safe nor effective as an abortificant.
posted by agregoli at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2004


Yeah, the old "poison yourself and hope the fetus gets poisoned first" method of abortion is pretty out. Evidently "whacking your girlfriend repeatedly on the uterus with a baseball bat" still has retained popularity, though. It's tres retro.
posted by u.n. owen at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2004


Ok, matteo, but what's the issue? Emergency rooms are expensive.

That doesn't mean we need to cut off the cheapest and easiest means for a woman to get a first trimester abortion. What the hell kind of bizarre non-sequitur was that?
posted by u.n. owen at 2:31 PM on November 18, 2004


Comparing the statistical risk of a full-term pregnancy and that of taking RU-486 seems like poor logic because it is. One can "prove" any any illusory point using statistics that compare apples and oranges.

Yes, pregnancy carries risks, but the outcome is, hopefully, a healthy baby. Since the pill carries with it no such outcome and the body is not subjected to the rigors of pregnancy over a nine-month period, comparing them statistically makes little sense.

Since both have the same outcome, a more logical comparison would be between standard abortion techniques and RU-486.
posted by zarq at 2:41 PM on November 18, 2004


I don't think anyone meant it as a real comparison - I know that I would only offer that comparison forth as a sort of, "Can you believe it, childbirth kills more people than this pill and they want to ban it..."
posted by agregoli at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2004


Wait, so you're saying women should have to go through pregnancy even though it puts their lives at over 10 times the risk of an abortion?

Please elaborate. You know, the "outcome of a healthy baby" isn't necessarily one everyone digs on either. I'd prefer an outcome of "getting promoted and moving upward in my career" at this point in my life.
posted by u.n. owen at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2004


Very few people use condoms completely effectively

I guess we'd better start funding programs to teach people how to properly use contraception, then.

I've been sexually active for almost twenty years now, at least fourteen of those years with regular condom use, and can honestly say I -never- had one break or fall off, because my parents made sure I had access to the information I needed, and taught me the consequences of not taking contraception seriously.

They also taught me how to ride a bike. Hooray for mom and dad!

Long time reader, first time commenter, called a troll for the first time in 5...4...3...
posted by davejay at 2:45 PM on November 18, 2004


Good for you, Davejay. You're right, kids do need to be taught proper condom (and other contraceptive) use. What a shame that the same people fighting to ban RU-486 are also in favor of making sure children are kept in the dark about all contraceptives.

See, sex should be about punishment and consequences, not about communing with someone you love or just having a good time.
posted by u.n. owen at 2:55 PM on November 18, 2004


u.n. owen: No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying people should be forced to choose between the two. I'm saying this comparison doesn't make sense.

The way this is written, the statistic states that with ru-486, statistically someone has a better chance of survival than carrying a baby to term, right? Well, a hypothetical person taking it (obviously) doesn't want to continue their pregnancy. So if RU-486 is pulled from the market, their alternatives will not be 'remain pregnant,' but end their pregnancy through other means. (a D&C, etc.)

This is why I think the comparison should have been made between a standard abortion and RU-486. Both carry the same end result. While RU-486 makes ending a pregnancy more convenient, it's not as if all alternatives are being removed.
posted by zarq at 2:55 PM on November 18, 2004


Geez, where to start? When abortions are outlawed, only...too trite. Folks, talk to your families - your mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and grandmothers; if you are close enough, ask about abortion in your family. I found out that both my mother (now 87) and my sister (now 65) had abortions. My mother is very lucky to have survived - her 'doctor' was drunk, the room was filthy, there was no nurse. Abortions were illegal then, of course. My sister went to Mexico, where it was only slightly safer. I think many many more women have had abortions than any of us (especially the men) realize.
Making them safe, legal, and private is a basic health-care/human rights issue in my book. The decision to have one is never simple, and the most vitriolic opponents never seem to be the ones lined to adopt/foster the unwanted children the "pro-life" folks have 'saved.'
posted by dbmcd at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2004


I'd just like to point out:

Hager, Bush's hopeful appointee to the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee I mentioned above:
-Aided the Christian Medical Association in petitioning for this RU-486 action,
-Is a doctor who will not prescribe birth control to unmarried women,
-Recommends Scripture reading and prayer as treatment for PMS,
-Apparently (incorrectly) believes that the Pill is an abortofacient.

Anyone who thinks that RU-486 is the only female reproductive health care concern Congress will be toying with criminalizing in the near future is dreaming.
posted by obloquy at 3:08 PM on November 18, 2004


That having been said, this ruling would be a travesty for women's rights, and probably a dangerous precedent for justifying a defeat of Roe vs. Wade. I hope the Dems filibuster this out of existence.
posted by zarq at 3:11 PM on November 18, 2004


zarq: my point is that this is one of the least dangerous drugs on the market - comparing it to a D&C actually isn't hugely effective because D&C's are one of the safer medical procedures in existence when properly done.

So why is the government banning something proven to be both incredibly safe and effective?
posted by u.n. owen at 3:11 PM on November 18, 2004


Obloquy, the pill can indeed be an abortifacient. I actually have an editorial coming out on this in the morning - if it doesn't prevent ovulation, it prevents implantation.

Still doesn't mean he shouldn't prescribe it. Many states now explicitly forbid firing pharmacists for denying birth control prescriptions. I am of the opinion that if you don't want to do an essential function of your job, you deserve firing - in the same way I wouldn't expect an orthodox jew to work at a rib shack or a jehovah's witness to run a blood drive, I don't expect people who have religious objections to dispensing prescriptions to dispense prescriptions.
posted by u.n. owen at 3:13 PM on November 18, 2004


The way this is written, the statistic states that with ru-486, statistically someone has a better chance of survival than carrying a baby to term, right? Well, a hypothetical person taking it (obviously) doesn't want to continue their pregnancy. So if RU-486 is pulled from the market, their alternatives will not be 'remain pregnant,' but end their pregnancy through other means. (a D&C, etc.)

The point I was trying to make as well.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:17 PM on November 18, 2004


Ok, matteo, but what's the issue? Emergency rooms are expensive.

I get Matteo's point. But that's maybe because the same emergency room visit and drugs would cost me about $10 here.

All of U.S. healthcare is fucked. I'm coming back to the U.S., and my son's first checkup will cost me more than his total healthcare costs of the last 2.5 years in Japan. And my taxes are about the same here as in the US.

Wanting abortion to remain legal is one thing, but if you want it to be affordable - you've got to work on the whole healthcare system.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:21 PM on November 18, 2004


Zarq, dbmcd, both well said.

It seems to me that for anyone who truly values life, the clear choice would be to support whichever options minimize the loss of life, no matter which side of the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice argument they're on.

If someone is Pro-Life and values the sanctity of life, logic tells us (okay, tells ME) that person should also be pro-funding of programs that increase contraceptive use and educate women on alternatives to abortion. Similarly, that person should also support development of safer abortion options, to minimize the loss of life should abortions remain legally available.

The same can be applied to Pro-Choice individuals as well, and in my experience this is usually the case.

Of course, if someone on either side of the argument has an agenda that is NOT primarily about the sanctity of life, then they'll behave differently. Since many Pro-Life individuals DO behave differently, most of the Pro-Choice individuals that I know believe Pro-Life individuals have something other than the sanctity of life as their top priority.

However, in my (admittedly limited) experience, the Pro-Life individuals I've spoken with prefer restriction on safe abortion options and availability of contraceptives, so as to provide a deterrent to casual sex and unwanted pregnancy. Presumably, this functions in the same fashion as the threat of a death sentence does to deter crime. If the Pro-Life person in question truly believes that this is the most effective way to reduce unnecessary deaths, then they still have the sanctity of life as their primary motivation, and we are left with a simple argument for the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice folks to argue over: "Which is more effective at saving lives, education and contraceptive use, or restriction and deterrence?"

That's a far less argumentative discussion to have, don't you think? Both sides would probably have much less animosity if they looked at it from that perspective.

On preview:

I actually have an editorial coming out on this in the morning - if it doesn't prevent ovulation, it prevents implantation.

Excellent. The next time I run out of condoms, I'll simply read your editorial. Heh.


look at me, solving society's biggest problems, one comment at a time. you'd think I'd get a paycheck.
posted by davejay at 3:37 PM on November 18, 2004


RU-486 is about 13-14 times safer than a full term pregancy

Safer for whom? Not the baby, surely.

Just sayin'.
posted by kindall at 3:41 PM on November 18, 2004


Guess everyone'll have to go back to getting kicked over and over in the stomach.
posted by angry modem at 3:45 PM on November 18, 2004


zarq: my point is that this is one of the least dangerous drugs on the market - comparing it to a D&C actually isn't hugely effective because D&C's are one of the safer medical procedures in existence when properly done.

Errr.... so you're comparing it pregnancy because that statistic looked better, even though it's not really as relevant to the point?

So why is the government banning something proven to be both incredibly safe and effective?

I have a couple of ideas why. The first law of "political asscovering" is that dead people are bad for approval ratings. That's why the Pentagon and the Bush White House have been trying to censor us from seeing reminders that our soldiers are dying in the Iraq war (like coffins, portraits and names).

The other reason is the Republicans are still playing to their extremist "base" and ignoring the moderates. So they try to make a stink over 3 deaths, which is, as you point out, statistically insignificant, but still upsetting enough to gather support from most people.

I could be wrong, but this explanation makes sense to me.
posted by zarq at 3:57 PM on November 18, 2004


I actually have an editorial coming out on this in the morning

I'd like to see it! :)
posted by zarq at 4:03 PM on November 18, 2004


u.n. owen: it's a matter of attaching to that proposal some other "drug review" proposal, but on some hugely profiteable drug (like Prozac..apparently ru-486 sold only 360000 that's penny money). You'd see how long would it take to dump the proposal...I guess between 2 and 3 picoseconds.
posted by elpapacito at 4:04 PM on November 18, 2004


I knew this was coming as soon as I read about Holly's death in the newspaper yesterday. And if it surprises anyone, you simply haven't been paying attention to the Bush administration's stance on women's reproductive rights.

It is not just Dr. Hager, it is all the anti-abortionist activists and evangelical christians that "we" have been sending to represent the United States international sessions on population control and WHO special sessions. "Our" ambassadors get out the Bush message that that "we" don't believe in abortions. That "we" approve of abstinence-only sex ed. And that natural or rhythm methods practiced by married women is the preferred choice of birth control.

I am expect to see in the next four years more legislature controlling birth control pills and patches. They will probably start with age restrictions-- no women under 18 will be allowed prescriptions without parental consent. Next, the warning labels will become bigger-- no doubt there will be requirement that the contraceptives carry a special warning that they may work as abortifacients.

And condoms will come under fire as well. There will be more national advertisement by the Christian Right that condoms don't work.

We may be seeing the end of The Sexual Revolution.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:15 PM on November 18, 2004


On October 2, 2001, the New York Times reported that researchers at prestigious Columbia University Medical Center in New York had discovered something quite extraordinary (1). Using virtually foolproof scientific methods the researchers had demonstrated that infertile women who were prayed for by Christian prayer groups became pregnant twice as often as those who did not have people praying for them. The study was published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine (2). Even the researchers were shocked. The study's results could only be described as miraculous. This was welcome and wonderful news for a shaken nation.

*ahem*
The Columbia University 'Miracle' Study: Flawed and Fraud
posted by matteo at 6:43 PM on November 18, 2004


You know, it's funny. This is the first time in my life I read a news article, raced to Congress' home page and fired off letters to my representatives, Ok, it's just their email comment forms - I don't know if that makes it sadder that the last time I wrote letters to my government it was form letters for Amnesty International in high school.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:30 PM on November 18, 2004


one hopes it wasn't that Amnesty International campaign against Saddam-era tortures at Abu Ghraib
*hugs karmakaze*
posted by matteo at 7:37 PM on November 18, 2004


So the war in Iraq and the economy and terrorism and all that stuff is fixed now? Cool, I hadn't been keeping up with the news.
posted by sixdifferentways at 7:57 PM on November 18, 2004


Faint of Butt & u.n. owen

concerning condom usage: 98% effectiveness comes from "perfect use". Perfect use means the condom user has been trained to use the condom perfectly, uses the condom every time intimate contact takes place, and does so with no drugs or alcohol in their system, in conjunction with a female applied contraceptive film, foam, or gel as an additional barrier method and does all of this consistantly over the course of a years worth of intercourse.

All of this being said it is not the case that condoms are fairly worthless. That's a fairly wrong headed & ill informed comment to make.
posted by filchyboy at 9:15 PM on November 18, 2004


Davejay -

"Which is more effective at saving lives, education and contraceptive use, or restriction and deterrence?"

Having that debate would require that both sides be interested in the same goal - saving lives in the most effective manner. In fact, I suspect that most people in the pro-choice and pro-life movements have different goals from the one you propose, and, also, different goals from each other.

Speaking for myself, my goal as a pro-choice advocate is minimizing or eliminating unwanted childbirths. Right now education and contraceptive use seem like the safest and most effective ways of accomplishing that, but abortion seems like a necessary fall-back for when those fail. If abortion were safe, easy, nontraumatic, private, and unrestricted, I wouldn't even consider it a fall-back; to me, it'd just be another good, additional method of preventing unwanted births. So RU-486 seems like a great idea to me.

From what I can tell, the goal of most pro-life advocates is minimizing or eliminating abortions. So to them, the whole concept of a safe, easy, nontraumatic, private, unrestricted abortifacient is a horrible nightmare. And RU-486 is therefore the last thing they want out there.

(I'm trying to stick purely to the abortion debate, and avoid the premarital sex/venereal disease/contraception debate, since while related it's not the same thing and involves somewhat different goals.)

Probably, it all goes back to the real heart of the debate - is an embryo a human life, and is killing it therefore murder? I say it isn't a human life, so as far as I'm concerned, abortions are fine. And since I think preventing unwanted childbirths is important and necessary, I very much want it around as an option. They say it is a human life, so as far as they're concerned, abortion is murder. So they don't want it around at all. And honestly, it's difficult to see a middle ground for those two points of view, meaning debating the issue is problematic at best.
posted by kyrademon at 9:27 PM on November 18, 2004


By your logic, conservatives should favor a gunshot to the head for all sick or retired people.

I'd like to reduce our prison population. But I'm not willing to dismember elementary school bullies in order to accomplish this.


The problem with both those statements is that in each case we know that the person is a living human being. With abortion, there is no ability to say "that is a living human being: therefore do not kill it."

The nearest analogy is this:

I'd like to reduce the cost of healthcare, but I can not stop providing the body's survival even if the brain is dead. Imagine if we operated our hospitals like that! Unable to determine when death has occurred, so we keep as much of the human alive as possible, until it is all rotted away.

Gonna have it one way, gotta have the other. Life's a bitch.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 PM on November 18, 2004


As a physician, I will not prescribe this medication. I'm not a fanatic and don't have an emotional axe to grind like many on both sides of the abortion issue. (I will prescribe the "morning after pill" regimen.)

Death rates aside, complication rates are high. The possibility of retaining fetal / placental material and getting septic is too high for my comfort.

I do not trust patients to report, quickly, the possible symptoms of early sepsis. I'm not willing to stick my ass out for the trial lawyers to ream it.

I'm appalled by those wanting to make this over-the-counter.

While pro-life radicals may have a reactionary response to this medication, the pro-choice feminazis are placing young women's lives at risk by minimizing the risks of this and trying to push it over the counter.

I've yet to comprehend the almost religious fanaticism of radical pro-choicers.

If a women wants an abortion, I point her to Planned Parenthood.

I had the same attitude about Vioxx 3 years ago when Merck and Co. tried to tell me I was over-reacting about a 2 patients who had a heart attack, one who had a hypertensive crisis, and about a dozen had severe edema when I prescribed it at the recommended doses. I have not prescribed that for 3 years.

RU-486 will eventually be pulled from the market... and John Edwards will make another 32 million dollars summoning up the souls of dead women who took this drug.

(BTW I've been reading this for 2.5 years, wanting to sign up. I'm sure I will be a lightning rod for many emotional tirades ;-) on many topics because I disagree with the majority of you about 90% of the time... but I respect you... well most of you... sort of... a little...
posted by dancingbaptist at 10:36 PM on November 18, 2004


Also, I heart several of our new users: solid-one-love and u.n. owen are understanding what their opponents are saying and presenting clear, fact-based arguments; and zarq, who seems to have missed a few of their key statements, is presenting a clear argument.

Zarq, the one key bit I think might alter your argument that RU & preggers death rates shouldn't be compared, is that you assume that the next three steps won't be to then eliminate morning-after Pill use, D&C, and the Pill itself. And in that case you are correct.

s1L & unowen believe that the next few steps will make abortion outright illegal. And in that case, the comparison to preggers rates is valid.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 PM on November 18, 2004


dancingbaptist, you, too. Excellent defense of your opinion and actions.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:47 PM on November 18, 2004


"obloquy: One of the deaths was assuredly the fault of an incompetent, stupid doctor who prescribed it during an ectopic pregnancy".

Did you know that the levels of quantitative HCG can vary tremendously during the first trimester and can mislead the physician. Did you know, that in early gestation, ultrasounds are sometimes faulty. Did you know that many women are not symptomatic for quite awhile with ectopic pregnancy.... there's a lot of uncertainty... Just because the doctor is not a fortune teller does not make him stupid and incompetent.

Don't let your fervor predispose you to arrive at an unsupported conclusion.
posted by dancingbaptist at 11:09 PM on November 18, 2004


Er, dancingbaptist, this is not the more normally prescribed morning-after pill that is being talked about being put over the counter. RU 486 is not being discussed for OTC availability.
posted by u.n. owen at 11:42 PM on November 18, 2004


dancingbaptist -

If you're not prescribing a drug because you consider it unsafe, and instead recommend other procedures you do consider safe which have the same result, then I commend you. Also, from what I've read of RU 486, it should certainly never be given over the counter, and if anyone is genuinely suggesting this, then they should be soundly ignored.

However, I do think it needs to be pointed out:

If you're going to raise Vioxx as an example of a similarly dangerous drug, it should be noted that Vioxx (a clear case of corporate malfeasance - they stopped a study when it began to look bad) is estimated as being responsible for an average of about 7,000 deaths a year between being introduced and being pulled. That doesn't even get into complications which did not lead to death, of which there were many, a good deal of them quite serious.

To compare that with RU 486 - about 1,370,000 abortions are performed annually in the US. Of those, probably roughly around 88% occur within the time frame RU 486 could be used - figure around 1,200,000. Taking RU 486's apparent death rate, as suggested by this thread, of 1 in 120,000 (which I actually think is a little high), that means if RU 486 is used for every single early abortion, it will result in 10 deaths a year.

Now, for one thing, that death rate is comparable with that of other early abortion procedures currently used, so most of those wouldn't be additional deaths - unlike Vioxx, for which much safer alternatives existed. The ten a year rate is about what we're already getting now.

Talking about complications which do not lead to death, the rate of that for Ru 486 is of course higher than its death rate. In the French study on which much of the pill's avowed safety is based, about 4.5% of the women in the study (76 out of 1605) required surgical intervention for one reason or another, such as excessive bleeding, incomplete expulsion, or failure to terminate the pregnancy. In the US trials, the rate was somewhat higher - about 7.9% (65 out of 762 women studied.) Since some of those (the "failure to terminate" ones) were simply a failure of the drug to work, the actual rate of "illness" is actually somewhat lower. Based on statistics I've seen for surgical abortions, that seems to me to mean that it's probably significantly more likely to result in complications than vacuum aspiration, but comparable to or less likely to have complications than a D&C.

So, based on the studies that exist:

There is an early abortion procedure which is quite probably safer in terms of potential complications, but RU 486 in general seems comparably safe to abortion procedures in standard use, and might be used in preference to vacuum aspiration because of its other advantages (for example, it can be used earlier in the pregnancy.)

The rate of death for RU 486 seems comparable to other abortion procedures in standard use.

RU 486 is not remotely comparably to Vioxx, which has a complication and death rate which is at a different order of magnitude.

Now, I am going off of studies, and you are practicing in the field, and it is entirely possible that you are seeing things that the studies missed or for whatever reason failed to acknowledge. I admit this, and am glad you make recommendations to your patients based on what you think will be best for their health. You could be right, and my statistics could turn out to be very very wrong.

But, for now, the studies seem pretty reliable to me, and I'm not going to fret terribly much if I or anyone I care about ends up taking RU 486 with proper supervision.
posted by kyrademon at 12:39 AM on November 19, 2004


Frankly, dancingbaptist, you were doing great until you lost me on two key points.

One was the use of the epithet "pro-choice feminazis". Because comparing anyone with a different opinion to yours to a nazi is always effective discourse.

Your second loss was the straw man argument that this is about making RU-486 available OTC. Until you brought it up, nobody here was suggesting RU-486 should be made casually available and a few persons who opposed the ban also mentioned that physician care was necessary.

If you honestly think RU-486 is unsafe, that's fine. But you clearly do have an "emotional axe to grind" with feminism and the pro-choice movement.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:33 AM on November 19, 2004


eustacescrubb:
> There's a big difference between death from natural
> causes and death from a medical intervention.

Really? In which case are you more dead?

davejay:
> However, in my (admittedly limited) experience, the
> Pro-Life individuals I've spoken with prefer restriction
> on safe abortion options and availability
> of contraceptives, so as to provide a deterrent to
> casual sex and unwanted pregnancy.

Actually, I find it troubling that the same folks who are dead set on outlawing abortion are also against sex education (though they're generally fans of abstinance "education," [salon, day-pass required] since that fits okay with their Good Book).

> Presumably, this functions in the same
> fashion as the threat of a death sentence does to
> deter crime.

And, like that assumption, it has no basis in reality.
posted by wheat at 6:35 AM on November 19, 2004


I read this entire thread and found it amazing that everyone here is talking in the abstract.

As a teenager I had an abortion. As an adult I wish I would have waited to have sex, but seeing as there was no time machine available I had to deal with what happened. It was painful (physically and emotionally), it was not a decision that I came to lightly, it was expensive, and I do not regret it today.

There should be more focus on making unwanted pregnancies rare, but because they do happen, women (and the resulting child) should not be "punished".

Abortion will always happen. Making it illegal will just make it more dangerous and more expensive, just look at prohibition and the war on drugs.

If RU-486 is a safer method and is less painful for the woman then is should be legal and that's that. Saying that only traditional vacuum abortion should be legal is like saying that only IUD's should be used as birth control, eventhough they are more likely to cause problems in some women.

P.S. Dancingbaptist, thank goodness you are not my doctor, any man who calls women "feminazis" scares the crap out of me.
posted by bas67 at 6:52 AM on November 19, 2004


The bill. Its status. That is all.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:01 AM on November 19, 2004


Even with that idea, though, there's a two-level attack on this issue. First, attempt to make abortion illegal. Then, attempt to make abortion an "ostracizable" event - women will be "punished" not through the courts, but through the protests staged at clinics, the publication of your face and info on pro-life web sites, even protests staged at your house, your doctor's house, and so on.

Anything that detracts from the religious right's message of "you should only have sex if you're married, of age, and intent on producing children to bolster our ranks" will be treated similarly.

To be blunt, it's friggin' horrible. Religion isn't rational, so why have it considered part of the decision-making progress?
posted by FormlessOne at 7:06 AM on November 19, 2004


Honestly, dancingbaptist, between your labelling of people as "pro-Choice feminazis," your suggestion that Planned Parenthood handle the problems women come to you for, and your random accusations against John Edwards (not to mention irrelevant- Edwards tried cases involing post-natal cerebral palsy- what does he have to do with any legal issues involving a drug that wasn't even on the market before he left private practice?), I'm very concerned about the prospects of there being doctors out there who quite clearly care ten times more about themselves than the patients they're supposed to be helping. As a favor to your patients, perhaps you could remove the chip on your shoulder before you put on the white coat.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:21 AM on November 19, 2004


I'm frankly appalled that an actual doctor would deny a woman access to this prescription, which - as has been stated - is significantly safer than even a hospital D&C. There's no way he couldn't know that they'll just have a more dangerous procedure done elsewhere. Where's the compassion?

I think people who don't believe women should get abortions think very little of women - that they "kill their babies" lightly, with little thought and no conscience. As bas67 pointed out, for every woman who makes the choice to have an abortion, there is an agonizing thought process involved. No one I've ever heard of (though I'm sure there are some - there are always people who act way outside the norm) has taken abortion lightly. Even the most pro-choice people I know understand that the choice to abort is incredibly emotionally difficult.

But I think conservatives, all too often, think women just gleefully and selfishly get rid of their fetuses whenever they feel like it. And it's just not true.
posted by u.n. owen at 7:30 AM on November 19, 2004


right the otc movement is for morning after pills... my bad.

I don't think they should be otc either, for similar reasons, missuse with potentially fatal complications being the main reason.

Feminazis exist. Patricia Ireland is a case in point.

Thanks for assuming I do not care about my patients... tell that to the elderly home-bound whose homes I visit.
posted by dancingbaptist at 7:56 AM on November 19, 2004


I never said you don't care about your patients. I said you show more concern for your own well-being than for them. Calling the head of a major women's rights organization a "Feminazi" is a great indicator of that very lack of concern.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:11 AM on November 19, 2004


Got to admit I'm not particularly fond of being likened to the people who killed all my relatives in Europe in horrible ways, razed their town, and murdered millions of others who happened to look like me. Especially when that comparison is made because I advocate such hateful things as equal pay for equal work. How nazi-esque of me. Dancingbaptist, a lot more people will listen to you if you drop the asinine rhetoric.

That being said, I still think people are jumping on dancingbaptist a bit much given the content. He(?) has stated he isn't prescribing RU 486 because he doesn't think it's safe, not because he thinks abortion is nasty - that's the kind of decision that saves lives. And when someone comes to him for a procedure he can't or won't perform, he refers them to someone he knows will - also not exactly picketing the abortion clinic.

His credibility just took a huge blow for me upon finding out that he thinks so little of his opponents on this that he completely mischaracterized their position on OTC, and confused their stand on RU 486 with their stand on a completely different and much safer drug. However, before I throw up my hands, I'd like to know from dancingbaptist -

Does your position on abortion cause any significant financial or emotional burden on your patients?
The morning-after pill is basically a large single dose of the birth control pill. Why do you think it more prone to dangerous misuse? Or do you consider the birth control pill prone to dangerous misuse as well?
If you thought RU 486 was safe, would you prescribe it? Or a similar drug that did the same thing? How about the morning-after pill? If you wouldn't, would you send your patients to someone you knew would? How much trouble would you be putting them through, based on your response?
What are your thoughts on birth control in general? Pre-marital sex? Federal funding for child care? Federal insurance coverage of abortions?

I'd prefer to avoid accusing him of not being concerned about his patients until I know how he treats them, and why.
posted by kyrademon at 8:32 AM on November 19, 2004


If anyone's still reading, this was my editorial (the main editorial in today's Panama City News-Herald, if anyone cares where I work).

---

For a long time, pharmacists could be fired for refusing to dispense medications. But as of this year, 16 states - including Florida - have adopted ``conscience clauses'' to prevent pharmacies from terminating these pharmacists. Several pharmacists in Florida, working at independently owned practices as well as at larger corporate locations
such as Wal-Mart, belong to ``Pharmacists For Life International.'' This organization's purpose is to encourage pharmacists to deny contraceptive prescriptions. One Florida pharmacist is even on its board of directors.

Putting aside the issue of whether companies should be allowed to fire whomever they want for just about whatever reason they want (they should), these conscience clauses do more harm than good.

The pharmacists for whom these clauses were written claim that contraceptives can act as abortifacients - that is, they can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall, a process known as ``implanting.'' More than half of fertilized eggs never make it that far even without contraceptives. They're simply shed by the body.

Contraceptives work primarily by preventing ovulation. But if an egg does manage to escape, the second line of defense is preventing implantation (the morning-after pill does this exclusively). Some pharmacists claim that this effect makes contraceptives immoral.

But this doesn't take into account the fact that oral contraceptives are used by women for a variety of reasons. More than a dozen hormonal conditions - some excruciatingly painful - can be treated with these prescriptions. Contraceptives also reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. For women with a family history of these diseases, contraception is a life saver. Other women with these prescriptions may be physically unable to accommodate a pregnancy. For women with pelvic damage or autoimmune
diseases, an unplanned, unmonitored pregnancy can be fatal.

But no pharmacist protected by a ``conscience clause'' is asking what a contraceptive is being used for - and no woman should be required to answer. Unless a condition directly affects the efficacy of a drug, it's not a pharmacist's job to pry into patients' medical history. If it were, they'd be the ones writing the prescriptions and it'd save everyone a trip to the doctor's office. As it is, exercising their new legal right of denial amounts to practicing medicine without a license.

If some pharmacists have a major problem performing normal functions of their job, they should not have chosen pharmacy as a profession in the first place. In the same way most Orthodox Jews wouldn't take a job at a rib shack, or that a Jehovah's Witness wouldn't choose to run
a blood drive, those whose religion prevents dispensing certain prescriptions ought to pass up working as pharmacists.
posted by u.n. owen at 9:56 AM on November 19, 2004


Hager, Bush's hopeful appointee to the Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee I mentioned above:

Hager is not a 'hopeful appointee'. He was appointed to the committee in 2002, & reinstated in June 2004.
more info.
I think he will be up for reinstatement again next June.
posted by mdn at 10:27 AM on November 19, 2004


kyrademon, I think a common goal for pro-life and pro-choice groups should be preventing unwanted pregnancies, not necessarily unwanted childbirths. Do you see the difference? It seems like both sides should, in rational terms, want to keep women from getting pregnant when they don't want to, but only pro-choice groups are going to follow that up with "and they shouldn't have to give birth if they do get pregnant anyway."

On *that* goal, a rational analysis would say that promoting sex education and birth control has been proven to reduce unwanted pregnancies, and both sides should therefore be using these tactics to pursue their goals. Abstinence education and restrictions on sex ed do not work toward the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies -- in fact, they increase it -- and so neither side should be using these tactics if they actually want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Instead, we have pro-life extremists using orthodoxy instead of science (surprise, surprise) to argue that methods that increase abortion rates should be used to... fight abortion rates.
posted by occhiblu at 11:02 AM on November 19, 2004


Occhiblu, I said I wasn't dealing with the birth-control/education debate in that response for just the reason you bring up - it's a different, although related, set of goals from the one I was talking about. As a pro-choice advocate, my goal is eliminating unwanted childbirths. As a birth-control/education advocate, my goal is indeed eliminating unwanted pregnancies. Related, but not the same.

Since you bring it up, though, I have to say I don't think the two groups (birth-control/education advocates vs. abstinence-only advocates) have the same goal at all. I don't think the abstinence-only group is interested in eliminating unwanted pregnancies; if they were, they would be promoting birth-control and education, which has been shown in pretty much every reputable study as being the best way to do that.

Abstinence-only groups are, as far as I can tell, interested in eliminating pre-marital sex. This would have the side-effect of eliminating a certain number of unwanted pregnancies and a certain amount of veneral disease, but that honestly seems to be a coincidental side-issue they sometimes use to argue the point to people who find that notion more palatable or acceptable than their real goal.

Why do I think this? The methods they promote tend to increase, rather than decrease, unwanted pregnancies. But it can have a chilling effect on a certain amount of pre-marital sex. Birth-control and education decrease unwanted pregnancies. But they do pretty much nothing to decrease premarital sex. Assuming the proponents of these positions are not simply total idiots, their methods reflect their true goals.

Personally, I rather enjoy pre-marital sex, would highly recommend it to all, and think birth-control is a great method for safely and enjoyably spreading this wonderful thing around, so it's unlikely that they're going to win me over to their side. Conversely, I suspect that not only are they not particularly interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies, but that they believe those who *do* have premarital sex in fact deserve to get pregnant for their sin, so I doubt I'm going to convince them that teaching proper birth control methods are a good idea.

Once again, it's difficult to see a way to meet in the middle here.
posted by kyrademon at 1:07 PM on November 19, 2004


Personally, I rather enjoy pre-marital sex, would highly recommend it to all, and think birth-control is a great method for safely and enjoyably spreading this wonderful thing around, so it's unlikely that they're going to win me over to their side.

Me, too. Eighteen years of it with my one and only lover, evah.

Which I think is an argument in itself for why the anti-sex people should be stuffed on pikes. I am not religious and I choose to keep the government out of my private life... therefore I shouldn't have sex with my life-partner?

Frankly, I think this means one thing: because I am not religious, they believe I should be extended no rights whatsoever. That is the only argument that would remain internally consistent with their view on pre-marital sex.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2004


Except that haven't studies shown that true sex ed does actually delay the age at which kids lose their virginity?
posted by occhiblu at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2004


occhiblu -

Yes. Age at which teens who do have sex lose their virginity tends to go way down, and spread of venereal disease and teen pregnancies tend to go way up. This is why, if you look at a country-by-country chart of teen pregancies per year, the bottom tends to be a cluster of countries like France, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands - good sex education, affordable birth control. The top tends towards countries like Angola, Liberia, and Somalia - poor sex education, poverty. The vast middle has countries which are there for a wide variety of cultural and educational reasons, like the US (which is pretty much bang smack in the center), and many Middle Eastern countries. There are, of course, many interesting exceptions at all points in the chart.

But anyway, do you honestly believe that because the teen pregnancy rate in Yemen is 111 per thousand, and the teen pregnancy rate in Switzerland is 5 per thousand, that means more people in Switzerland are waiting 'til they get married? I don't. I think it means the people in Switzerland are using a heck of a lot more birth control for their unmarried sex, and also that more people in Yemen are getting married when they're still teens.

The disease, pregnancy, and age statistics are what the education crowd is interested in. If you're only interested in whether or not the people are married when they have sex, Yemen probably looks pretty good. Remember that you can drive down the virginity age and the premarital sex rate at the same time if desperate horny teenagers get married young enough.

It's not a hard and fast rule, of course. Iran does indeed have a lower teen pregnancy rate than the US. But I'd prefer to stick with the "not killing girls who have sex" method just the same.
posted by kyrademon at 5:39 PM on November 19, 2004


Actually, in defense in myself, I was right about some advocating over-the-counter RU-486

Several other sources mention this as well. Perhaps they are confusing it with the morning-after pill. But I don't think so... I remember hearing about it and being shocked. It is more reasonable to do the morning-after over the counter, but I still do not think it should be available OTC, due to reasons previously mentioned... and not my opposition to abortion.

I was never more pissed of than I was at the "Students for choice" medical student organization trying to mandate that all medical students perform an abortion prior to graduating. I would have quit had I been made to do that. I take "first do no harm" seriously, and I think abortion is doing harm.

I was very pro-choice prior to attending medical school, until I learned, in detail, fetal development... specifically fetal responses to pain and other aspects of early neural development.

As for my rhetoric... I should be honest, should I not. I really do think N.O.W. is radical, not mainstream, and run by a feminazi.
posted by dancingbaptist at 12:44 AM on November 20, 2004


dancingbaptist,

The term "Feminazi" is highly offensive to many Jews, including myself.

Please note that I am the second person to point this out to you.

The term was popularized by pundit Rush Limbaugh in an attemt to draw a mental line for his listeners between the Nazi regime, which actively committed genocide of several racial and religious groups during World War II, and a group of feminists who are (perhaps overly) aggressive. in the way they pursue their goal of freedom for members of their gender. Current estimates indicate that 20,946,000 people lost their lives in the Holocaust that Nazi Germany ran between 1933 to 1945. (http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE3.HTM) This is more people than the population of any individual state in the US, with the exception of California and Texas.

On a personal note, my wife's entire family, with the exception of her parents were murdered by Nazis who felt they were racially inferior and therefore deserved to suffer torture and die. The perspective you are promoting throuh your use of the term shows a total lack of empathy and compassion for those of us whose relatives were murdered during WWII by a group of viscious racist thugs.

Do us all a favor: pick another term. You're being incredibly offensive and disrespectful.
posted by zarq at 5:51 AM on November 20, 2004


Yes. We're not asking you to be dishonest, dancingbaptist. We're telling you that the term you've chosen is incredibly offensive and inaccurate. Feel free to hate the politics of Patricia Ireland-style feminists. Feel free to hate us personally. And feel free to say so. But unless you honestly think that we believe in something roughly equivalent to the extermination of all non-Aryan peoples, the nationalistic unification of all German-speaking countries, the use of private paramilitary organizations to stifle dissent and opposition, the centralization of all decision-making power in a single leader, and the complete subordination of the individual to the interests of the state, then don't call us nazis, OK? NAZIS TORTURED HUNDREDS OF MY RELATIVES TO DEATH. NEITHER I NOR MY GIRLFRIEND CAN VISIT WHERE OUR GREAT-GRANDPARENTS LIVED IN EUROPE, BECAUSE BOTH TOWNS WERE DESTROYED SO UTTERLY THEY NO LONGER EXIST. I don't recall myself, or Patricia Ireland, advocating anything even remotely similar to that. DON'T call me a nazi. Get some perspective.

That being said, I think I understand where you're coming from WRT abortion. It actually sounds remarkably similar to the process I went through that led to my becoming a vegetarian. We could probably have an interesting discussion about it, and you might even convince me to modify or change my opinion about certain things if you're coming at it from that perspective - if you'd, you know, stop calling me a nazi.
posted by kyrademon at 10:40 AM on November 20, 2004


dancingbaptist, that article confused RU-486 with Plan B. Totally different contraceptives. The reporter in one newsletter made a mistake because they're so often confused by absolute morons like you who have no business practicing medicine. If you can't tell the difference, you do not belong in your job. It's excusable (barely, barely) for a journalist to mix them up. It's absolutely, utterly inexcusable for a doctor to do the same.

Of course, I highly doubt you're a doctor.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:16 PM on November 20, 2004


I'm starting to doubt it as well, if only for my own sanity.
posted by agregoli at 6:59 AM on November 22, 2004


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