Last week, the FDA approved the controversial abortion drug RU-486 for use in the United States. Presidential candidate Al Gore has spoken positively of the drug, making it appear as though the approval of the drug is a victory for women. However, this issue is more political than Mr. Gore may lead you to believe. The Democratic Party is conveniently using RU-486 as a tool with which to attract voters. In reality, the drug will not make much of a difference for women because most doctors will be extremely reluctant to prescribe it. Plus, it can only be used for a very short window of time during the pregnancy.
The image that has been portrayed of RU-486 is that it is a miracle abortion drug that will eliminate the need for surgical abortions. The truth is RU-486 can only be used for the first 49 days after a woman’s first menstrual period. Many abortions that occur today are performed after this time period, and therefore, would not be affected by the availability of RU-486.
Since RU-486 will be available through private doctors’ offices, many supporters of the drug had hopes that it would make it more difficult for anti-abortion activists to target abortion doctors. It was thought that the providers of the drug would remain anonymous. However, in accordance with the release of this drug, new laws will come into effect that will restrict the anonymity of doctors who prescribe the drug. Even though many people currently believe that this drug will protect doctors by allowing them to remain anonymous, this will not be the case.
Doctors who do not currently perform abortions will be particularly reluctant to prescribe RU-486. There are many side effects that go along with abortion, regardless of whether the procedure is surgical or chemical, and non-abortion doctors may not feel equipped to deal with them properly. Prescribing this drug will also force many non-abortion doctors to deal with the moral issue of abortion, an issue they were not faced with before. Prescribing RU-486 is equivalent to performing a surgical abortion, and many of these doctors may be reluctant to face the moral issue of abortion by distributing the pill.
Certain organizations in the United States have been fighting for the approval of this drug for years. It became legal in France in 1988 and has been used in 13 countries since then. Now, a month before the election, it has been approved for use in the United States. Politically, praising this drug is a good move for Al Gore, as he can use it to attract voters. It’s too bad that so many people have so much hope for this drug, and in reality it won’t have much of an effect on abortion at all.
The issue, for the Democrats, is more political than moral. When Republicans look at the realities of the pill, we can see that it is not going to significantly change the abortion issue in the United States. Let’s not fall prey to the Clinton-Gore Administration’s political maneuvering in support of this relatively useless drug.
-The writer is a freshman representative for the GW College Republicans.