01The political news website iPolitics.ca reported April 16 that sources at Health Canada say the federal agency will not make a decision about whether or not it will permit importation of the abortion drug RU-486, effectively legalizing it in Canada.

Last November, two abortion advocates took to the pages of the Canadian Medical Association Journal calling for an importation request to be approved, calling mifepristone (RU-486) the “gold standard” in abortion drugs.

Also in November, Deputy Health Minister George Da Pont told the Standing Committee on Health that “to date, no company has applied to market the product in Canada.” Yet, in January, Campaign Life Coalition received confirmation from Health Canada’s Bureau of Metabolism, Oncology and Reproductive Services that there is in fact an RU-486 application, but said it is the agency’s policy to not reveal which pharmaceutical company had applied.

A review by the department must ensure the drug meets “evidentiary standards demonstrating safety, effectiveness, and quality, including that the benefits outweigh any risks.” The Health Canada website states that the approval process typically takes 18 months and media reports have stated that the application was made in 2012, suggesting that a decision was to be expected in the first half of 2014. However, Da Pont told the standing committee that considering mifepristone’s “widespread use” and date from other countries, the process could be speedier than usual. LifeSiteNews.com reported in March that Health Canada informed it via email that it would not publicly disclose if it turned down an application or why the decision was issued.

Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes told The Interim he is concerned about the timing of the decision. “If it’s based on reviewing the science, then they will conclude that RU-486 serves no medical purpose and shouldn’t be approved,” Hughes explained. “But the bureaucrats could be playing politics and might put off making a decision until after the October 2015 federal election hoping that the Liberals or NDP win.”

Abortion advocates hail RU-486 as safe compared to surgical abortions, but the United States and European countries such as Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have reported deaths from complications by women who used the drug. In Canada, clinical trials were ended in 2001 when a British Columbia woman died from septic shock caused by her chemical abortion.

Campaign Life Coalition organized petitions urging Health Canada to not approve RU-486. When CLC announced it was petitioning the government to refuse an importation license, Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer for the pro-life organization, said, “Canada has very wisely kept this drug out of our country based on the evidence of severe side-effects and complications which include severe cramping, nausea, vomiting, heavy bleeding, (and) heart attacks.”

CLC has presented petitions to both Health Canada urging the Health Minister Rona Ambrose to “definitively reject” RU-486.

CLC has also linked the RU-486 debate to this year’s National March for Life theme, “RU-486 or RU-4Life?” Douglas told The Interim that while all abortions are wrong and to be opposed, this year’s march will focus on the dangers of chemical abortions to both women and unborn children.