A recent study into the effects of “the abortion pill” has shown that it is a more dangerous option than a traditional abortion, contrary to claims that it is a safe alternative to surgical abortion.

Mifepristone, or RU486, became available in 2006 amidst a great deal of controversy. Aside from the expected pro-choice and pro-life arguments, much of the controversy surrounded the safety of the pill. Proponents argued that it was a safe and efficient means of abortion with the added advantages of easy access and privacy. Opponents rejected the arguments that it was safe and some argued that the risks associated were actually higher.

The study, reported in The Australian on the weekend, found that the pill poses significantly more problems than does a traditional surgical operation. According to the report, among those women who were “recipients of early ‘medical’ abortions”, 5.7 per cent were admitted to hospital as a result of using the drugs, compared with 0.4 per cent of surgical patients who were re-admitted for treatment after their abortion.

Emergency treatment was also higher, with 3.3 per cent of RU486 users being admitted at emergency department compared with 2.2 per cent of those who had surgical abortions.

While the Australian Christian Lobby opposes abortion in any form because it destroys an innocent life, it opposed the broader legalisation of RU486 on the grounds of its potential harm to women.  This study confirms the concerns voiced by opponents of the pill that RU486 is not only harmful to the unborn child but to the mother as well.

ACL spokeswoman for women’s issues Michelle Pearse said “the general population actually fails to acknowledge the reality of what abortion actually is; it's an induced miscarriage, and miscarriages are often painful”. The RU486 pill simply induces miscarriage by means of a drug rather than by surgery. “It's not a drug that helps to reduce pain or to solve a problem,” says Ms Pearse, “but it's a drug that is used to cause a miscarriage, which will involve pain and bleeding”.

According to this article from LifeSiteNews.com, the RU486 can even be fatal, with six women in the USA dying of complications from medical abortions. The Italian Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics has also reported 16 deaths as a result of the pill.