Abortion pill an idea whose time has come

				Abortion pill an idea whose time has come

City Council in St. John's, Nfld. last week gave Dr. Henry Morgentaler 10
days to close his recently opened abortion clinic.
	 In Vancouver, the pickets are out at 16th and Granville, the proposed
site for the city's second clinic.
	 And all across Canada doctors have announced they will no longer
perform abortions should the federal government's controversial abortion
bill become law.
	 The bill in question, which puts abortion back in the Criminal Code and
renders doctors liable, may well find itself expiring quietly in the
Senate where the 111 senators appear almost evenly split over it.
	 Good.
	 This is a bill which deserves to be forgotten, an opinion which may
even be shared by Justice Minister Kim Campbell, whose support of the bill
has certainly been tepid of late.
	 We do not need an abortion law.
	 In fact, we do not need abortion clinics.
	 What we need is RU-486.
	 RU-486 is a pill, developed and manufactured in France by Roussel-Uclaf
and usually referred to as "the abortion pill."
	 It has been used successfully by some 50,000 French women after a
bitter battle in which protests by anti-abortion groups prompted the
company to take the drug off the market.
	 In an unprecedented move the French government stepped in and ordered
the company to resume distribution.
	 "Morally, this product belongs to women," said French Health Minister
Claude Evin.
	 Meanwhile in Washington, researchers have given up on the pill because
of "uncertainty about getting supplies from the manufacturer," which is a
nice way of saying that Roussel-Uclaf is afraid to try to introduce it.
	 The company fears anti-abortion boycotts and liability suits which
could devastate the $6.4 billion US sales of the company's other drugs.
	 In fact, in Feb. 1990 the firm discontinued its supply of RU-486 to the
Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Centre
Women's Hospital, the only North American site for RU-486 research.
	 RU-486 has not been tested in Canada.
	 So just what does this pill do? Physically, it blocks the hormone
progesterone essential to maintaining pregnancy.
	 A woman takes three aspirin-sized tablets of RU-486, and two days later
she receives an injection of prostaglandin, a synthetic hormone which
causes the uterus to contract. This combination of drugs produces a
chemically induced miscarriage in 96 per cent of cases.
	 Philosophically, it renders abortion private. A matter between a woman
and her doctor. It takes the power tripping out of procreation.
	 Once women start using RU-486 there is no way that anyone -- priest,
minister, husband, politician, ex-boyfriend -- can attempt to control
their bodies.
	 And women will get RU-486. In Britain, in the U.S., in Canada. And in
the Third World, where as many as 200,000 die each year from botched,
illegal and self-inflicted abortions.
	 The anti-abortion protests, pickets and parades will continue for a
while; abortion clinics will open; abortion clinics will shut. Laws will
be brought down; laws will be passed.
	 And then one day in the forseeable future, some small drug company will
begin to manufacture RU-486 and with the inevitablility and the
inexorability of an idea whose time has come, abortion will become a
private matter.
	 For RU-486 is indeed a product which morally belongs to women.