It has been revealed that Health Canada wrote Exelgyn, the French company owning the rights to the abortion pill RU-486, to promise that Canada’s drug-testing process will be “fair.” In so doing, the federal government has tipped its hand and shown that far from being “fair,” it may give RU-486 favoured treatment in the drug-approval process.

The Food and Drug Act forbids Health Canada from inviting drug applications because of the appearance of bias. The letter was written in 1998 at the request of Penny Priddy, British Columbia’s pro-abortion NDP health minister, and has perhaps revealed the federal government’s bias in the matter.

Hoechst, the German parent company of the firm that developed RU-486, was reluctant to sell the controversial drug for fear of a consumer backlash against its other products. The Canadian pro-life movement has threatened to boycott any drug company that manufactures what it considers “a human pesticide.” Hoechst Marion Rousell sold the rights to Exelgyn. But now Exelgyn also seems reluctant to sell it in Canada unless it is welcomed.

Catherine Euvrard, spokeswoman for Exelgyn, said the federal government has not made it clear that RU-486 would be welcome in Canada and until it receives a formal request, it will not submit for approval.

“This is not an ordinary drug, because abortion can be so controversial. We have to have a formal request for the drug and we have never had a request from Canada.”

Priddy argued last fall that “The legalization in Canada of RU-486 would significantly reduce the risk (of violence) to care providers (abortionists).” Priddy said she wished B.C. could bypass Health Canada and bring RU-486 directly into the province. “We would do that if we could.”

“RU-486 won’t protect the anonymity of the abortionist or of women, since how can it be done confidentially when women must visit their doctor three or four times?” asks B.C. pro-life activist and Interim columnist Ted Gerk. “Word will soon spread on who is doing these chemical abortions. Medical complications will become known. It will damage the doctor’s reputation and other patients will leave the practice.”

RU-486 has a notorious corporate parentage. Hoescht AG is a German drug conglomerate that is a direct corporate descendent of the I.G. Farben company, whose parent company, DEGESCH, developed the Zyklon B gas used to exterminate Jews at Auschwitz.

None of the above

Advocates say it is a quick, cheap and private abortion method, but RU-486 is none of the above. Although touted by its promoters as a fast, painless, at-home procedure, the chemical abortifacient requires considerable medical supervision for at least 7 to 12 days.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association has warned in its drug brief on RU-486 that “Because there are some risks with the regimen you must ensure that you are closely monitored by a physician. It would be dangerous to take it at home on your own.”

In the same literature, the CPhA suggests that pharmacists should answer the question, “Isn’t the abortion pill a more private method of abortion?” with the reply: “No. Not at all. Four visits to the clinic are necessary. One, to get the pregnancy verified, one to take the drug RU-486, one to have the prostaglandin inserted and at least one to follow-up the completeness of the abortion. The abortion usually takes place where others are present. However, if the clinic’s practise is to discharge the woman, when stable but before aborting, the contents of the uterus will be passed at home. This can be a disturbing experience for some women.”

RU-486 must be taken within nine weeks of the last menstrual period to be effective. After this time its effectiveness is decreased.

The CPhA has warned that RU-486 is not safe for women over 35 or for moderate or heavy smokers (more than one pack a day). Nor is it suitable for women with cardiac conditions, bleeding disorders, anaemia, asthma, hypertension or women on long courses of corticosteroids or with adrenal insufficiency.

Exelgyn founder Edouard Sakiz admitted in  Aug. 19, 1990 that RU-486 causes women “an appalling psychological ordeal,” while trials in the United States have revealed the risk of life-threatening uterine bleeding.

Because of the chance of severe hemorrhaging, blood transfusion equipment should be on hand, as well as resuscitation equipment in the event of cardiac arrest. RU-486, therefore is anything but a “home remedy.”

RU-486 (or mifepristone as it is known generically) alters the endometrium so that it cannot support implantation of the embryo, resulting in its separation from the uterine wall. But the drug is not very effective alone as an abortifacient. (In fact, the CPhA reported that there have been five case reports of healthy babies born to women who took RU-486 and then refused the second drug, the prostaglandin, and continued their pregnancies.)

RU-486 must be administered in conjunction with another abortifacient chemical, a prostaglandin, the primary action of which is to cause strong uterine contractions. Strictly speaking, therefore, this particular form of abortion should be referred to as RU-486/PG since RU-486 is never administered alone.

“The decision to abort must be made quickly with RU-486 since the ‘window of opportunity’ is so brief,” says Michael Izzotti, co-ordinator of Pharmacists for Life Canada. “Yet it is at this time (the first eight weeks of pregnancy), when a woman is first aware that she is pregnant, (and when) she is most vulnerable to abortion rhetoric. The panic from the discovery of an unwanted pregnancy brings about hasty but irreversible decisions, and thus can lead to serious future trauma.”