March 9, 2010

Are Home Abortion Drugs Safe?

Swedish scientists are touting both the safety and effectiveness of home-based abortion medications for women who are 50 to 63 days pregnant, according to a March 9, 2010 Reuters report.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, led by Dr. Helena Kopp Kallner, state that this is the first survey to look at the use of the home-based procedure beyond 49 days post-conception. The procedure requires women to take a dose of mifepristone (also known as RU-486), followed three to four days later by a dose of misoprostol (Cytotec).

According to the Reuters report, Kallner and her staff "offered the option of surgical or medical abortion for all women up to 63 days pregnant who sought treatment at their clinic between January 2004 and April 2007." Nearly 400 of the women chose the home-based treatment.

The procedure was a success for all but four of the 203 women who were 50 days pregnant or less, as well as for 186 of the 192 women who were between 50 and 62 days pregnant. Ten of the women required surgery to successfully complete their abortions, while 60% of all those participating required additional pain medication during the process.

According to the report, subjects who were further along in pregnancy reported more bleeding, but the difference between this group and the women who weren't so far on in their pregnancy could have been due to chance because of the small number of people in the study. The researchers concluded that home misoprostol use is "safe and highly acceptable also to women with gestational length of 50-63 days as compared with shorter gestation."

Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid compound which can be used as an emergency contraceptive in addition to an abortion-inducing agent. It was designed by Roussel Uclaf S.A., a French healthcare and chemical corporation. It was approved for home use in the United States in 2000, though many European countries require that it be administered in a hospital or health clinic.


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