'Abortion pill' moves towards U.S. approval
September 16, 1996
Web posted at: 10:45 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Jeff Levine
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The battle to get RU 486, the so-called
"day-after pill," approved for use in the United States may
be nearing an end.
"Everything is in place for FDA approval. We just aren't
sure exactly at what point the approval process will be
finalized," said Margaret Conway of Planned Parenthood.
Sources tell CNN the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may be
close to approving the French abortion pill with some
conditions. Specifics of a conditional approval are unclear,
but sources indicate a remaining hurdle could be the
inspection of the manufacturing plant, which is somewhere in
Government sources say an announcement could come this week.
About six months ago, the Population Council submitted its
application to market the drug. The FDA is obliged to
respond to the application within six months.
Doctor Wayne Bardin, a former consultant to the Population
Council, says he's visited the plant and says it's a good
facility that manufactures many similar kinds of drugs. RU-
486 has been approved in France, Great Britain and Sweden and
has been used by about 200,000 women to terminate pregnancy.
An FDA advisory panel recommended in July that the agency
approve the drug. The FDA could take the panel's advice --
which it usually does -- or turn down the drug, or say it
must meet certain conditions before approval.
The availability of RU 486 would give women who want an
abortion an alternative to surgery, its backers say. "It
does two good things for a woman who hopes to end an
unintended pregnancy. That is, she can do it earlier, and
without surgery," said Planned Parenthood's Conway.
It would also mean a woman could avoid the emotionally
charged atmosphere of an abortion clinic. In theory,
thousands of physicians could prescribe the drug.
There is some opposition to the drug's approval, particularly
among anti-abortion activists.
"The Clinton Administration and the FDA want to see this drug
introduced before the elections and even if that costs
women's lives, and their unborn children their lives, this
drug unfortunately could make it into our communities," said
National Right to Life Committee member Olivia Gans.
The manufacturer is currently being kept secret to avoid
reprisals. Anti-abortion forces hope to discover the maker
and launch a boycott.
And Republican Representative Steve Largent of Oklahoma says
that if RU-486 is approved he will co-sponsor legislation to
keep it off the market. "Abortion, regardless of how you
perform it, is killing children," said Largent. He said he
would do everything within his means to stop women from using
RU 486. "If we can do it legislatively, I would be all for
Even though such a bill might pass the majority-Republican
Congress, it would almost certainly face a presidential veto.
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