Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Abortion Drug to Reach Developing Countries Despite US Obstruction

WHO (the World Health Organization) has managed to endorse safe abortion using mifepristone and misoprostil despite a half-year delay attributable to U.S. opposition.

Addition of the abortion-inducing medication, formerly known as RU-486, was finally achieved by a compromise that tagged it as suitable "where permitted under national law and where culturally acceptable." The drug was originally banned in the U.S. by the first Bush administration, markedly impeding its testing and development.

In year 2000 19 million women underwent unsafe abortions, 18.5 million in developing countries. 68,000 women die each year from botched surgical abortions and many more suffer severe, permanent injury. The death rate in developing countries is 100 times higher than where mifepristone has been available to the population for the past 14 years.

With mifepristone, most surgical abortions should be unnecessary worldwide. Inclusion in the WHO Model List: Essential Medicines is instrumental in making selected drugs accessible and affordable in all countries regardless of patents, taxes and production costs on the grounds that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. The Model List is an important contributor to the 5th of the UN Millennium Development Goals: "Improve Maternal Health."

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