By Kathleen Gilbert

ATLANTA, Georgia, October 4, 2010 ( – Two more deaths have been linked to use of the abortion drug RU-486, according to doctors at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pro-life leaders are warning that countless more women could stand threatened now that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug ella, which is similar to RU-486, as an “emergency contraceptive.”

Elissa Meites, Suzanne Zane, and Carolyn Gould of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed the deaths in a letter to the editor published in the New England Journal of Medicine September 30. The doctors wrote that at least two more women since 2008 have succumbed to the bacteria Clostridium sordellii following a typical medical abortion regimen.

In 2008, a 29-year-old white Hispanic woman died 6 days after she began taking vaginal misoprostol at 5 weeks gestation, they wrote, and experienced “severe abdominal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea” two days before her death. They write that “exploratory laparotomy revealed copious greenish-brown peritoneal fluid and necrotic uterine and adnexal tissue [ovaries or fallopian tubes],” and that despite removing her reproductive organs “she died of sepsis with acute respiratory distress syndrome.”

The second woman, a 21-year-old previously healthy white woman, died 12 days after starting the regimen in 2009. She experienced similar symptoms on the sixth day after beginning the regimen, and also died of sepsis with acute renal failure and internal bleeding.

While the authors note that abortion giant Planned Parenthood has taken steps to change the regimen to reduce risk of death, such as administering prophylactic antibiotics, they noted that, “The effectiveness of this revised regimen in preventing C. sordellii infections and the safety of routine administration of antibiotics for this procedure remain unknown.”

The FDA approved RU-486 for medical abortions ten years ago, and since then hundreds of severe adverse symptoms have been reported. The latest report brings the total of U.S. deaths from the drug to at least twelve, according to the Family Research Council.

Jeanne Monahan, the Family Research Council’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, who once served as a staff member of the Health and Human Services Secretary, said the two deaths confirm the drug’s safety reputation as “entirely dubious.”

“Ten years ago, the FDA’s approval process for RU-486 was flawed, relying primarily on French data that the FDA admitted was marked by ‘carelessness,’ ‘fraud,’ and ‘evidence tampering,'” said Monahan. “Other drugs with less extreme adverse affects have been pulled from the market quickly, but not RU-486,” she said. Monahan recounted that “over 1,300 adverse affects on women using the drug” have been recorded, including 336 hospitalizations, and 172 blood transfusions.

“These two women are just the latest of many to pay a severe price,” she said.

Monahan criticized the FDA for approving ulipristal acetate under the name ella as an “emergency contraceptive,” “despite the fact that it shares an almost identical chemical make-up and identical modes of action with RU-486.”

“Women should not be the guinea pigs of the abortion industry or the government. These risks should not be taken,” Monahan urged.