FDA Approves Sale of Mifepristone for Nonsurgical Abortion (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: The Food and Drug Administration approved medical abortions using mifepristone (RU-486) as an alternative to surgical abortion.
On September 28, 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of RU-486 for use in the United States as an alternative to surgical abortion. The ruling mandated that in order to prescribe the drug, a physician must be able to date the pregnancy conclusively and, if anything unusual occurred, to provide surgical intervention, either to complete the abortion or to stop heavy bleeding. Three visits to the physician are required. The first is to ensure that the pregnancy is early enough for the pill to be used safely (forty-nine days after the last menstrual period).
Two sets of pills are required: The first, mifepristone, prevents the production of progesterone, which the uterus needs to nourish the fertilized egg and keep it alive. Without progesterone, the embryo is dislodged from the uterus and is expelled from the body. The second drug, misoprostol (Cytotec), to be ingested two days later, triggers contractions and expels the fetal tissue. Normally used to prevent gastric ulcers, misoprostol also makes the uterus contract so that it expels the fertilized egg, mimicking a miscarriage. A few days after taking it, there is some cramping and bleeding. After twelve days, the woman must return to her physician to confirm the...
(The entire section is 948 words.)
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