Originally approved for women no more than 49 days past her last menstrual cycle, an RU486 induced abortion can take days, weeks, or never happen at all. However, in March 2016, the FDA, under pressure from abortion advocates, loosened the protocol in order to expand its usage.and help make up for the diminishing number of doctors who are willing to do abortions. The new protocol expands the use of Mifeprex to 70 days.
Additionally, the old protocol required three pills of Mifeprex; the new one cuts the dosage down to one.
In her first visit, the woman takes RU 486, in the presence of the abortionist. The drug is called mifeprex and blocks the action of progesterone – the natural hormone vital to maintaining the rich nutrient lining of the uterus. As a result, the tiny, developing baby literally starves to death as the nutrient lining of the womb sloughs off.
Two days later, the woman takes misoprostol, a prostaglandin, orally or vaginally. Gradually, as the drug begins to take effect, she experiences powerful, painful uterine contractions which begin to work to expel the dead baby.
“I felt like I was dying…it hurt so much. I had contractions coming so fast, and I was sick to my stomach and dry heaving. I couldn’t stop trembling and I felt so hot.” (RU 486 patient, named Aimee, talking about her experience. Darton N., Surprising journey for abortion drug, New York Times, 23 March 1995 p.C12)
In U.S. trials, about half (49%) aborted during the four hours they spent waiting in the doctor’s office following the administration of the prostaglandin. An additional 26% aborted sometime over the next 20 hours; on the bus ride home, at work, in the shower, etc. The rest who aborted did so at some point during the following two weeks. Between 8% and 23% (depending on how many weeks pregnant the mother was) never completely aborted or didn’t abort at all using the drugs.
In the old protocol, a third visit roughly 14 days from the woman’s initial visit was required. This visit allowed the abortionist to confirm whether or not the abortion was completed. If it wasn’t the abortionist would encourage the woman to undergo a surgical abortion to guard against the possibility that she would give birth to a child who may have been injured by the drugs. The new protocol does not require a 2nd visit, but suggests the girl “follow up with her healthcare provider”.
The new protocol expands the possibility of a failed abortion and/or danger to the woman.
Possible Side Effects of an RU 486 Abortion*
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, headache
- Severe cramping
- Incomplete abortion requiring surgical abortion.
- Heart palpitations
- Hemorrhage (heavy bleeding)
- Allergic reaction to the medicines.
- Rupture of tubal pregnancy
- Emergency treatment for any of the above problems, including possible need to treat with an operation, medicines, or a blood transfusion.
- Psychological trauma from seeing the baby’s body
- Rarely, death (at least 14 women have died since the FDA approved the drug).