This week marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of RU-486, otherwise known as the “abortion pill.”
When the pill was introduced in the United States, it was heralded as a product that would incite a “social revolution.” Advocates noted how it would allow women to have abortions in the privacy of their own homes. They opined that it would allow women to avoid clinics that were surrounded by anti-abortion protestors and how doctors who never performed abortions would come out of the woodwork because it was much easier than a surgical abortion. Within the world of the abortion providers, there actually was fear that with all of these new doctors, they would be put out of business.
Things didn’t necessarily work out that way.
The first thing that happened was that the company that made the pill decided to charge a lot of money for it. That meant that the clinics had to charge women a lot as well and the price was usually more than a surgical abortion. Then, women quickly discovered that it was not as simple as just popping one pill. It was actually a few pills and, thus, a few visits to the clinic. Finally, there was the fact that having an “abortion” at home was not necessarily the right thing for some women. That’s because there were some who, when they expelled the fetus in their toilet bowl, simply freaked out. While all they were seeing was blood and tissue, their imagination got the best of them. Thus, the clinics soon discovered that it took a little more counseling than a surgical abortion.
All in all, we did not see a “social revolution,” as it was predicted by the
New York Times. The abortion pill because just another option that some women could exercise. The numbers of women using the pill did not increase dramatically as some had predicted (or, as the investors wished).
Recently, there has been a new development in the distribution of the pill. Some clinics are utilizing tele-medicine where a doctor off site counsels a woman on how to use the pill and, when done, the pill is given to her by clinic staff. This procedure is useful in areas where there are few abortion clinics.
So, the pill has not necessarily lived up to the hype. But it’s still a good option for some women.
Happy anniversary to the pill.