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Will 1999 Be The Year For Mifepristone (RU-486) And, An Update on Women’s Other Options for Very Early Abortion

While there has been much attention to the few abortions that occur late in pregnancy, there has been little focus on what options are available during the early weeks, even days, of pregnancy, when most women seek abortions. The drugs mifepristone (also known as RU-486) and misoprostol have been available in France, England, and Sweden for much of the last decade as an earlier medical alternative to surgical abortion. Since becoming available, an estimated one-half million women in Europe have used the drugs to end unintended pregnancies. In the United States, mifepristone, is still undergoing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process, and has been available only to a limited group of women participating in clinical trials.

In this Emerging Issues in Reproductive Health Briefing a panel of experts including Janet Benshoof, JD, President, Center for Reproductive Law and Policy and Beverly Winikoff, MD, Senior Medical associate, the Population Council discussed the availibility of mifeprestone, methotrexate, and other very early methods of abortion in this country, as well as what is currently available, what is on the horizon, who provides these options today, and who is likely to in the future. A companion survey also released at this briefing is available separately as #1431 Two National Surveys: Views of Americans and Health Care Providers on Medical Abortion.