This year’s March for Life is targetting the abortifacient RU-486. Photo by Deborah Gyapong.

March takes aim at abortion drug

By 
  • May 1, 2014

Campaign Life Coalition has stepped up the fight against the approval of RU-486, evident from this year’s March for Life theme — RU-4LIFE.

“It is a theme this year because there has been an application to Health Canada to bring this abortion drug into Canada once again,” said Alissa Golob, Campaign Life’s youth co-ordinator. “It is being reviewed right now so we really wanted to take that opportunity to say that Canadians don’t want abortion in their country let alone this type of abortion that harms women so frequently and blatantly. We really wanted to focus on what was current in the news.

“Instead of the broader goal of ending abortion, which is what the whole pro-life movement wishes to achieve, it has a more practical theme this year,” said Golob. “We can actually affect change right here right now in this year when it comes to this particular type of abortion.”

Starting at noon on May 8 the March will begin with speakers taking to the podium on Parliament Hill before embarking upon a journey through the streets of Ottawa. Speakers include Campaign Life staff, religious leaders and pro-life members of Parliament.

While the event seeks to promote a pro-life culture in the broadest sense, this year’s March will pay specific attention to the chemical abortifacent RU-486.

“On May 8, Prime Minister Harper will have to respond to the tens of thousands of Canadians who not only oppose the lawlessness on abortion in this country, but who also don’t want this human pesticide that kills babies and their mothers to be available in Canada,” said Jim Hughes, president of Campaign Life. “RU-486 is a lethal drug that has been shown to produce severe bleeding in 10 per cent of the women who take it. The fact that Health Canada has not yet rejected the application is appalling.”

Hughes also said he expects this year’s March to surpass numbers from last year’s event, the largest in history, which drew about 25,000 to Parliament Hill, thanks to the specific focus on RU-486.

The drug, which is made up of mifepristone, can be used as a means of abortion up to the 49th day, or seventh week, of pregnancy. It functions as a progesterone blocker, a hormone necessary for successful pregnancy.

It’s not the first time RU-486 has been up for debate.

“Back in the ’80s at Campaign Life this very subject came up and they had a protest across the country,” said Golob. “Basically they brought out coffins that were not only mini-coffins for the babies but also bigger coffins for the women because so many women died from taking this pill as well. Beside the blatant and obvious detriment of the RU-486, which is killing the baby, it is also very dangerous to the woman.”

That’s a concern that Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, sees as existing in conjunction with the issues surrounding morality, ethics and Catholic teachings.

“Catholic teachings would be definitely against it for several reasons,” said McQueen. “The main reason is because it is an abortifacient and cannot really be allowed at all. Secondly there is this whole question for people being able to use it themselves or having it inserted at a doctor’s office and then being sent home to deal with the consequences.”

McQueen said the drug has a history of causing what she referred to as “partial abortions,” resulting in a return trip to the hospital. And the psychological damage from this is by no means the drug’s greatest risk, she added.

“If you were looking at the statistics you would notice that there have been several physical problems caused by the use of it and several deaths.”

The most recent known death caused by RU-486 comes out of a hospital in Turin, Italy. In late April a 37-year-old woman became the country’s first death to be linked to the drug since it was approved there in 2009.

But British Columbia MP Libby Davis doesn’t think that one death in five years is a bad track record.

“It is relatively safe,” she said, citing the Canadian Medical Journal for support. “With any prescription there is a risk but this has been used by millions of women. One always has to be aware of the risks but that is what doctors are there for.”

RU-486 is currently available in 38 countries around the world and costs between $10 and $40.

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