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Friday, September 29, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 25

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Staff Editorial


EDITORIAL BOARD

Ed De La Garza                        Miriam A. Garcia                       Brandon Moeller 
Jim Parsons                              Shaun Salnave


A tough choice on abortion pill

The Food and Drug Administration approved the abortion pill RU 486for sale in the United States on Thursday.

An FDA advisory committee had earlier recommended its approval following the Population Council's submission. The drug, which will be sold in the United States as Mifeprex, has been on the market in Europe for several years. Its makers gave the patent to the Population Council in 1994, but had a hard time finding a company to market the controversial drug in America.

The pill lets women terminate a pregnancy within seven weeks of their last menstrual cycle. Some critics say the pill can cause bleeding and incomplete abortions in up to 8 percent of women.

Because Mifeprex can be used at home, proponents say the pill will keep women from having to cross protest lines and angry pro-life activists on their way to abortion clinics. The pill, they say, makes the decision to have an abortion a private one.

The pill definitely does make things easier for women wanting abortions. That is probably what its makers intended. But one unintended result of its approval may be Mifeprex's transformation from an abortion drug into birth control -- one thing abortion is definitely not supposed to be. At $300 -- the pill's estimated price -- chances are it won't exactly become commonplace.)

This is not a matter of taking away a woman's right to choose whether to abort. Women can do with their bodies what they feel most comfortable doing. If women choose to have an abortion, they should be free to do so without having their names dragged through the mud by radical pro-lifers.

Others may argue the pill will benefit women who would otherwise be relegated to getting illegal abortions, those who can't afford legal and safe procedures. But the drug's makers and proponents should be stressing the importance of contraceptives, planned parenthood -- and yes, abstinence -- as ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Prevention, not the abortion pill, should be the answer.

Abortion is a sensitive enough issue without it being sold, ready-to-use, to people who weren't smart enough to keep a lid on their hormones. It's tantamount to selling euthanasia drugs over the counter. Whether it's legal or not, you just don't see "New and Improved Abortion" ads in the Sunday newspaper.

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