The Venerable Double Standard
Over at Tom Wicker's League of Gentlemen, the NYTimes is alerting the rabble to the dangers of contraception:
"Two more women have died after taking RU-486, the abortion pill. Officials said today that they did not know what caused the deaths, and they did not indicate when the deaths had occurred.
From September 2003 through May 2005, four women died in California from a rare and highly lethal bacterial infection after taking abortion pills."
The anti-choice people have been trying to shut down access to this drug since it became available in the US in 2000, and the good old "liberal" NYTimes is happy to give them an assist by placing the story prominently on the front page. Is it the danger to public health that the prominence of the article implies that it is? The FDA:
"The risks of death from infection after using the pill are similar to the risks after surgical abortions or childbirth, officials said."
From 1999 to 2003, a span of only 4 years, Merck's anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx was responsible for 27,785 deaths and cardiac arrests, out of 1.4 million who took the drug. That's 2% of those who took it. And despite the damning evidence that showed Merck had consistently covered up the fatalities to save it's fiscal hide and continue selling the drug, the FDA decided to allow it to go back on the market.
But RU-486? Four women, all within a specific radius of one another in the state of California, died from the same bacterial infection. Now 2 more deaths have come to light. 6 women have now died, out of half a million who took the contraceptive over the course of 6 years. That's 12 tenth thousandths of one percent! Still, any death is enough to let loose the dogs of mysogynistic war, and the snakes of opportunism.
This is not to demean the deaths of those women. They were precious to their loved ones, and of themselves. But it points up the purely political way the FDA has been handling women's contraceptive issues since Bush stole the crown, and the ridiculously transparent approach they take to whose ox gets gored.
RU-486 had been used for years in Europe. This is what the site Religious Tolerance.org had to say about it:
"RU-486 is a safe method to terminate a pregnancy, as long as it is not used on women with any of three contraindications -- a history of:
- heavy smoking
- heart problems, or
- high blood pressure.
After extensive use in Europe, one fatality occurred to a woman who should never have been given the pill, because all three contraindications applied to her. In addition, an older form of prostaglandin was injected in her case. This is no longer used in France and elsewhere; misoprostol is now used in combination with RU486. One death in 500,000 times that RU-486 was used compares very favorably with the fatality rate if the pregnancies had been allowed continued to term. Trials have been conducted in 20 countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavian countries, the former Soviet Union, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the U.S. The U.S. trial was concluded on 2,100 women who had been pregnant fewer than 7 weeks.
One source compared the safety of various alternatives in North America:
- RU-486: 1 death in 200,000 abortions.
- Vacuum aspiration abortion: 1 death in 200,000 abortions
- Childbirth: 1 death in 14,300 pregnancies
- Illegal abortions: 1 death in 3,000 abortions. 2,3
After the pills had been available for about four years in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration reported that three women had died from bacteria infections in the uterus which later spread to their blood supply, leading to sepsis (a.k.a. blood poisoning). By that time, about 360,000 women had use RU-486. This is a fatality rate of 1 death in 120,000, which makes the use of the medication eight times safer than continuing the pregnancy to childbirth."
So maybe what's needed is a campaign against childbirth. Women are dying like flies all across the world. It's only common sense: babies=death!
Let's get on it, Fascists for Life.