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RU-486 Fact Sheet

ve8QAd   |   April 01, 1998

Comparison of Chemical Abortion Methods
RU 486/Prostaglandin and Methotrexate (MTX)/Prostaglandin

Similarities

1. require two drugs.

2. kill unborn baby whose heart has started to beat.

3. can injure and possibly kill women.

4. abort women 5-to-7-weeks pregnant.

5. effectiveness decreases significantly after 7 weeks.

6. could harm woman’s subsequent offspring.

7. could deform babies who survive abortion attempt.

8. could cause psychological complications.

9. could increase number of abortionists, which will

10. increase annual number of abortions.

 

Differences

1. use either RU 486 or MTX.

2. MTX/PG abortion takes about twice as long.

3. MTX/PG has lower effectiveness rate than RU 486/PG (claimed 90% versus 95%).

4. RU 486/PG much more widely tested (thousands versus hundreds).

5. MTX is a generic drug and costs under $5.00. RU 486 is not generic and the cost will be about $350, and

6. manufacturers of MTX and Cytotec oppose using their drugs for abortion. Maker of RU 486 is promoting use for abortion.

 

Issue

RU 486/Prostaglandin

MTX/Prostaglandin

Drugs Used RU 486 (mifepristone) and

Cytotec prostaglandin (misoprostol), licensed as anti-gastric ulcer drug. Manufacturer G.D. Searle opposes use for abortion.

Methotrexate (MTX; generic). Manufacturer Lederle opposes use for abortion. And Cytotec prostaglandin (misoprostol), licensed as anti-gastric ulcer drug. Manufacturer G.D. Searle opposes use for abortion. Method of Action RU 486 starves unborn baby to death by causing nutrient lining of uterus to disintegrate. Cytotec causes uterine contractions to expel dead baby and bloody uterine contents. MTX starves unborn baby to death by attacking fast-growing cells.

Cytotec causes uterine contractions to expel dead baby and bloody uterine contents.

Procedure
Day 1: pregnancy test; woman takes RU 486 orally.
Day 3: woman returns to abortion facility; takes Cytotec orally; waits 4 hours; goes home. Day 14: woman returns to abortion facility for checkup and possible surgical abortion if drugs fail.

Day 1: pregnancy test; woman gets shot of MTX; goes home.
Day 6 to 8: woman inserts Cytotec tablets into her vagina; waits; aborts at home.
Day 10 to 14 (or longer): woman returns to abortion facility and possible surgical abortion.

Complications Nausea, vomiting, pain, excessive bleeding, psychological damage, genetic abnormalities.

“Effectiveness” Claimed about 90% to 95%. No more than 90% with one dose of PG. Claimed 95+% with 2 (or more) doses of PG. Status U.S. tests completed on 2,121 women; licensed to Population Council; marketing stalled by lawsuit against prospective manufacturer; accepted as “safe and effective” by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both MTX and Cytotec on market for non-abortion. uses. Preliminary tests conducted on about 1,000 women nationwide from 1993 to present. Planned Parenthood starting nationwide test for abortion in 17 sites on about 3,000 women.

Prepared by Richard D. Glasow, Ph.D., consultant to Life Issues Institute, September 25, 1996. Updated April 1998.

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