Tuesday, November 28, 2000 Volume 66, Issue 69



RU-486 OK'd by FDA, not UH 

Many universities still do not administer recently approved 'morning after' abortion pill

Arthur Rendon
News Reporter

Less than a few months after its approval by the Food and Drug Administration, universities have been hesitant to stock the RU-486 abortion-inducing pill in on-campus clinics. Some have carried the "morning after" drug, some are debating whether or not to and some, like the UH health center, have even refused to allow its disbursement.

"It will not be available in our pharmacy," UH Chief Physician Dr. James Gray said. Gray didn't specify why the clinic won't supply the drug. 

Mifepristone, more widely known as RU-486, was invented in France by Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu and is intended to terminate unwanted pregnancies without physical surgical procedures. 

American Life League, the nation's largest pro-life educational organization, surveyed eastern college campuses regarding RU-486 usage. Results so far show many universities are not allowing RU-486 treatment on their campuses.

"It's going to be a real battleground in the next few months, since the release of this pill," Gray said.

Although the pill has been in existence for 20 years, the FDA approved it Sept. 28, making it the first legal alternative to surgical abortion in the United States.

With the controversy surrounding RU-486, student health centers across the country are trying to determine how to deal with its use.

Approved clinics in the United States will offer the pill, but recipients are only eligible for the drug within the first seven weeks after their last menstrual period. Women seeking RU-486 are required to take a physical exam and pregnancy test screenings.

"I think it's a good thing, but don't feel that colleges should be the ones to authorize the dispensing of this particular drug to students," Tracy Robbins, a UH master in business administration student said.

Women who take RU-486 are actually taking two drugs: three pills of mifepristone on the initial treatment day and two tablets of misoprostol two days later. Two weeks later, patients must return to their doctor's office to ensure a complete abortion. RU-486's side effects include heavy bleeding, cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

According to studies, RU-486 is 95.5 percent effective and is considered to be less physically invasive in comparison to the normal surgical procedure.

"When you think about the risk of infection and damage to the cervix that a woman encounters with a normal abortion, it's hard not to think this is better," Robbins added. 

Currently, Canada does not allow the use of RU-486, but China has started to use it.

Additional reporting by Brandon Moeller.

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