LONDON, UK, January 19, 2004 ( – The British government revealed that two women died there as a result of taking the controversial abortion pill, RU-486.

In response to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Jim Dobbin, chairman of the Parliamentary all-party Pro-Life group, public health minister Melanie Johnson told the House that since 1991, when the drug became available in Britain, the Committee on Safety of Medicines had received two reports of “suspected fatal reactions in association with the use of Mifegyne [RU-486].”

Holly Marie Patterson, an 18-year-old handed the deadly RU-486 abortion drug concoction by a Planned Parenthood abortuary, died last September of septic shock after taking the pills. The other four deaths were in France and the United States.  National chairman of the UK pro life group Life, Jack Scarisbrick, told the Telegraph that “I hope this serves as a warning to women on just how dangerous these powerful drugs are. Why haven’t we been told of this before, though?” Scarisbrick added, “This is clearly another cover-up. There’s a good chance that if these two women had not taken RU-486, they would not have died, and given how unreliable the reporting system is, if two deaths have been reported then there are probably 20 others that went unreported.”

The finding highlights lack of regard for the health and safety of women. Dr Gordon Stirrat, the emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Bristol University, said “The small number of deaths have to be taken in the context of the very large number of people who take the drugs.”

The news of the deaths comes only four months after two groups, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, and the Family Planning Association, had asked the Department of Health to ease restrictions on the use of RU-486, such as decreasing the number of visits a woman needs with her doctor to complete the procedure. 

Michigan gynaecologist Donna Harrison said “Regardless of their views on abortion there are many doctors who are concerned about the safety of RU-486. There are so many things that can go wrong.” 

Mary Ellen Douglas of Campaign Life Coalition says, “Any pharmaceutical powerful enough to kill and dislodge a growing child within the womb of his mother can hardly be a harmless drug free from serious adverse reactions. At least seven women are known to have died yet doctors and governments continue to prescribe and support a noxious mixture of chemicals that kills children before their birth and their mothers afterwards from shock, bleeding and infection.” 

Read related coverage:

U.S. Teen Dies After Taking Abortion Pill (RU-486)


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