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Editorial: It is NOT About the Morning After Pill

Susan Britt

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By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Understanding that people these days do not have a great deal of time for research, call me a geek, but I heavily research subjects before typing a word. Bills that we report on are read before writing about them.

While understanding that there is room for error, egregious error is unacceptable. When buzz words about controversial subjects are used to sensationalize a story without confirming the information causing unnecessary diversion of attention from what could be an important bill that saves lives, it is just plain irresponsible. If you don’t have time to do the research or understand the subject don’t discuss the it and especially don’t report on it. Right or wrong, people depend on authority figures, teachers and yes journalists to be their eyes and ears on subjects. When we get it wrong, it can cause unnecessary consequences.

Over the last couple of weeks, many people, including colleagues in the press, have referred to SB6 and SB96 as the “morning after” bill when it is not. Both bills sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) are specifically targeted at an “abortion-inducing” drug that is administered after conception.

While mifepristone (RU486) can be used as a “morning after” pill in small doses (after conception, before implantation) these bills target “medical abortion” where mifepristone used in conjunction with misoprostol to cause contraction of the uterus resulting in an abortion (after implantation). It doesn’t take a physician to understand the difference.

The purpose of this bill is to stop women from purchasing mifepristone online and self-administering at home by requiring a physician’s supervision. There are multiple dosages at multiple times of administration that depend upon the gestation of the fetus (this is written in the text of both bills in detail). Using an off-brand of these drugs can be deadly (also in the text of the bills). Without emergency backup or medical supervision, even the self-administration can result in death.

Online stores have been set up targeting these women with slogans like “save you money” with nice, smiling models in lab coats showing their approval. A physician’s consultation is not necessary and the drug can simply be prescribed and purchased with a couple of clicks.

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Let’s get our facts straight. Wikipedia defines mifepristone as:

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Mifepristone is a synthetic steroid compound used as a pharmaceutical. It is a progesterone receptor antagonist used as an abortifacient in the first months of pregnancy, and in smaller doses as an emergency contraceptive. Mifepristone is also a powerful glucocorticoid receptor antagonist, and has occasionally been used in refractory Cushing’s Syndrome (due to ectopic/neoplastic ACTH/Cortisol secretion). During early trials, it was known as RU-38486 or simply RU-486, its designation at the Roussel Uclaf company, which designed the drug. The drug was initially made available in France, and other countries then followed—often amid controversy. It is marketed under tradenames Mifegyne and Mifeprex.

Women’s Health at About.com defines it as:

This emergency contraception method is different from another “morning after” pill used widely in Europe – known as RU486 or mifepristone. The FDA approved RU486 for use in the in United States in September 2000. Unlike emergency contraception, which acts before implantation of the fertilized egg, RU486 is an antiprogestin, which causes the uterine lining to shed after implantation. For this reason, RU 486 is sometimes referred to as an “abortion pill,” although it can only be used up to six weeks after conception. RU 486 must be given by a physician in three separate doses.

The above information was obtained through a Google search that took seconds. While I am not always right, I work very hard to make sure that I am at least not wrong. Misinformation and misrepresentation whether intentional or not is deceiving and destructive.

Be careful what you utter from your mouth or type with your fingers, someone’s life might just be depending on you.

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