Physiological And Psychological Effects Of Ru-486 Essay, Research Paper
Physiological and Psychological Effects of RU-486
are Less Severe than the Effects of Other Types of Abortions
RU-486, an abortion in a pill, medically called an abortifacient, was developed in France by Rousell Uclaf. This procedure of abortion has less psychological pressure and its physiological effects are also less severe than traditional surgical abortions. It can be used only up to 49 days after a women?s last menstrual cycle, making women choose before the embryo grows and develops. It also gives the woman, who is the sole decision maker, a feeling of control over her situation.
RU-486, chemical name mifepristone, is an antagonist to progesterone. Progesterone, a sex steroid, prepares the uterus for implantation and nurtures the egg. It plays the main role in the establishment of pregnancy and maintaining pregnancy to term. It helps the new embryo attach itself in the lining of the uterus, promotes development of the placenta, relaxes the uterine muscle to decrease contractions, and firms the cervix, preventing dilation.
Usually, when progesterone locks into the receptor all these biological processes happen, but RU-486 an anti-progestin, blocks the use of progesterone, taking its place working against implantation. With RU-486 taking the place of the progesterone the developing placenta and embryo will detach from the uterine lining. Then there is an increased contractility of the uterine muscle, softening dilation of cervix, and contractions that will expel the embryo. In addition to the pills, one to two days after taking them you go back to the doctor where he/she administers a shot or vaginal suppository of prostaglandin?s, substances in the body that act like hormones and as intermediates in metabolic process, that make the uterus react more strongly. With this shot, expulsion happens usually 3-4 hours later, making the RU-486 abortion happen faster and more efficiently than without the shot.
In this process of abortion women experience heavy bleeding and cramps, like that of a bad period. In RU-486 The Pill That Could End the Abortion Wars and Why American Women Don?t have it Yet, Lawrence Lader writes, “Most women have no pain at all,” Dr. Elisabeth Aubeny explains. In a multinational study of 251 women only 7.6 percent had enough pain to require narcotics. In a British study of about 1,000 cases, Dr. Iam Z. Mackenzie, a leading researcher at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, reported that 48 percent had no pain, 29 percent had enough discomfort for aspirin, and 23 percent needed a painkiller (57-58). In a study done on 2,115 women in France, fewer than 1 percent had heavy bleeding and only one woman had to be given a blood transfusion (Lader 37). That seems kind of small compared to surgical abortions where women always experience heavy bleeding and cramping.
The other physiological benefits of taking these pills, are that it eliminates the use for invasive abortions. That is entirely beneficial to women, “RU-486 is safer than a surgical abortion because it avoids the hazards of anesthesia and the risk of perforating the uterus” (Newsweek 61). RU-486 takes away the risk of scarring on a woman?s uterus and the risks of not being able to conceive again, because of it. Complications before nine weeks are very rare with RU-486. “Of the first fifty thousand cases in France, the two complications involved women over the age of thirty-five, where one was a heavy smoker and the other under severe psychological stress” (Lader 57). In comparison to vacuum abortion with a complication rate of 4-6 percent in the same time frame, RU-486 has proven to be more safe and the only non-surgical way. Making abortion no longer harmful, in a physiological aspect.
RU-486 also poses no threat to the fetus if the expulsion doesn?t happen and the woman decides to go through with the pregnancy. “Strictly speaking,” concluded Professor Roger Herron of the hospital of Paris, “there has been no case of malformed baby born to a mother who has taken RU-486 during pregnancy” (Lader 38-39). It also causes no problems, to women who have had an RU-486 abortion, in future pregnancies. Women are able to conceive again, shortly after.
The psychological effects are less severe than surgical abortions because women feel they have more control in the situation easing mental anguish. Janet Callum, associate director of the Atlanta Feminist Women?s Health Center, said of French women, “They feel in control, conscious that they are doing this to themselves, not just as a patient, and they like that” (Mccalls 62). It gives a better feeling of dealing with all the emotions that come about when a woman has to be faced with the decision of abortion. Abortion is a big decision for women, going into a clinic one day and getting a fetus sucked out them and it be over in fifteen minutes, poses no feelings of control for the women. Women deal with all their emotions in RU-486 abortions in a different way, experiencing and feeling the pain and whole process of the expulsion of the embryo.
In The Silent Subject a woman from Pennsylvania said “There are psychological advantages, to the harrowing experience of repeated clinic visits for RU-486 and prostaglandin injections and in the six hours or more of labor pains to expel a dead human fetus” (138). Another woman reported in Lader?s book, “What I liked was taking care of myself, not being in the hands of a doctor, it brought a sense of knowledge and control, a positive existential experience” (54).
In both senses, psychological and physiological, the RU-486 pill proves to be safer than any other way of abortion. This process will be cheaper for women, letting poor people the chance to afford it. This can also eliminate the complications that women all around the world are still having from unsafe surgical abortions. In any way abortions will occur, having RU-486 will keep woman unharmed and provide an easier, more involved way of dealing with the emotional pain.
“Abortion in the Form of a Pill.” Newsweek. 17 April 1989: 61.
Lader, Lawrence. RU-486 The Pill That Could End the Abortion Wars and why American
Women Don?t Have It. Addison-Wesly, 1991.
Lake, Alice. “The New French Pill.” McCall?s March 1990: 58-63.
Stetson, Brad, ed. The Silent Subject. Westport: Praeger, 1996.