ADELAIDE, Australia, May 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new Australian study has found strong evidence that chemical RU-486 abortions have a far higher rate of serious complications than surgical abortion, undercutting a major selling point of the abortion drug regimen.

The Australian reports that the first major study comparing the risks of chemical and surgical abortion has just been published in the Australian Family Physician, a medical journal for Australia’s general practitioners.

Drs. Ea Mulligan and Hayley Messenger examined approximately 7,000 abortions, which the Australian reports were carried out in the state of South Australia in 2009 and 2010.

The study found that 3.3 percent of women undergoing the RU-486 abortion process (which uses the drugs mifepristone and misopristol) in the first trimester sought emergency room help, compared to 2.2 percent of women who had first trimester surgical abortions.

The Australian also noted that the study found that a massive 5.7 percent of women undergoing RU-486 abortion, versus 0.4 per cent of women who had surgical abortion, were re-admitted to the hospital for post-abortion treatment.

The study also found that the risk of women suffering severe hemorrhaging was one in 3,000 in surgical abortion. But the risks rose to one in 200 for women getting chemical abortion.

The rate of hospital admission for infection was one in 1500 for surgical abortion, but one in 480 for chemical abortion.

The Australian reports that since its introduction five years ago, the use of the chemical abortion regimen has been growing fast due to its lower cost, the privacy of an induced abortion at home, and assurances as to its safety.

In Australia, only an authorized dispenser of RU-486 may provide the 200mg tablet of mifepristone. The abortion begins in the hospital or abortion clinic where the pill is taken. Approximately 48 hours, after the unborn child is dead, the mother takes the drug called misoprostol, which causes her to expel the dead child’s body and the rest of the womb’s contents. The last part usually takes place at home.

Mulligan, one of the authors of the study, chalked the higher risks of RU-486 abortion up to Australian doctors still being on a “learning curve” with the drug, and said that “follow-up surgical intervention will come down” as they get used to it.

Australian pro-life advocates disagree.

“We always said that taking RU-486 would have a very deleterious effect on women’s health,” Margaret Tighe, founder of Right to Life Australia, told the Australian, adding, “taking a pill seems very easy, but what we are seeing here is there can be quite a lot of complications.”

Pro-life advocates in the United States and elsewhere around the world have also noted the severe complications that may occur with RU-486 abortions.

RU-486 was made legal in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000, and since then at least six American women have died of complications from medically induced abortion. Abroad, the Italian Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics in 2008 reported 16 maternal deaths associated with RU-486, leading the Italian Senate to delay sale of the chemical abortion regimen.