RU-486: No ‘Light’ Procedure

On September 28, 2000 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted final approval to RU-486, also known as the ‘abortion pill’ or a ‘medical abortion’.  Its sole purpose was abortion - to end the life of a preborn child.

NOTE: RU-486 should not be confused with the "morning after pill,” also known as ‘Plan B’ or ‘Ella’.  The “morning after pill” is designed to prevent pregnancy.  It is taken within 3 – 5 days after unprotected sex. In some circumstances, however, it can cause an early abortion.

RU-486 is described by one website as a “gentle, effective, non-surgical option in the privacy of your own home”.  They picture an attractive, smiling woman with her partner at her side.  They go on to describe a “heavier period, with some tiny cells that you can’t see and some tissue lining.”

The former patients below would disagree:  

“I had nausea, diarrhea, and the stomach pain really unnerved me.Then I bled. At first it was a small amount. I felt more cramping. I was thinking, "This feels like labor.
They did not mention this!"   ~Patient A


“The nurses and doctor at the abortion clinic led me to believe my abortion would be a light procedure…I was told the “light procedure” would be like a period but the pain I went though felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly. With the amount of blood that left my body that evening I could have died and should have been admitted to the hospital.”  ~Patient B

The website also says there is usually no ‘visible embryo’, however, reports of women who talk about seeing “tiny fists, eyes, or their aborted babies laying in the toilet bowl or swirling in the shower drain” would definitely not agree.

Medical abortions have given the abortion industry a new, less controversial opportunity to make abortion sound as simple as “taking a pill” or even that it is a “very, very safe option for women”. 

The reality, however, is far different and includes potentially severe complications ranging from hemorrhaging and infection to death.   Fifteen women have died after taking RU-486.  Thousands of stories exist about the adverse effects, including:  hospitalization, hemorrhaging (some serious enough to require transfusions), and serious infections, some of which lead to the patient’s death.

Far from ‘simple’, RU-486 is a multi-step procedure briefly outlined here:

  • Initially, lab tests, a physical exam and/or ultrasound may be done.  A medical history will typically be taken to rule out possible dangers with the procedure and should include questions regarding high blood pressure, diabetes, heavy smoking, allergies, obesity, chronic diseases, anemia or bleeding disorders, liver/kidney disease, and seizure disorders to name a few.
  • At the first visit, the patient receives Mifepristone.  (She may be given antibiotics to help prevent infection, as well.)  Mifepristone blocks progesterone disrupting the necessary nourishment and blood supply to the growing baby.  The baby will die shortly thereafter.  
  • Two to three days later, the patient returns for a second medication, Misoprostol.  Misoprostol causes uterine contractions and bleeding that expels the (now-dead) baby.  This might take a few hours, a few days, or longer.  In some cases, it may not happen at all and may necessitate a surgical abortion.
  • The patient returns two weeks later to confirm the abortion.   

Today, medical abortions with RU-486 account for approximately 27 percent of all abortions in the United States.  Approximately 1.52 million women have used the abortion drug through April 2011 at a cost of between $300 and $800 per procedure.

Part of the name ‘RU-486’ comes from Roussel Uclaf, the French Company which first developed the abortion pill back in 1980. The "486" is a shorter version of the original compound number assigned in the laboratory.

Though there was much anticipation of FDA approval of RU-486 by abortionists, many physicians have not embraced the drug as expected.  Most major colleges and universities indicate that they do not offer the drug to their students, either.

Abortionists are resistant to using the FDA-approved regimen for RU-486 for one simple reason – money.  The recommended method is time consuming and cuts down on the provider’s profit margin.

As an alternative, many abortionists resort to “off label” uses of the drug, which involves less stringent regulations and unknown consequences.  That often means differing medications, less specialized training for providers, less expensive diagnostic equipment such as ultrasound and fewer follow-up visits with patients. 

While the abortion industry works to market the safety and simplicity of RU 486, none can deny that the first few weeks of a growing baby’s life are filled with very rapid development.  It’s been said that if a baby continued to grow at the same rate throughout the pregnancy as these first few weeks, he/she would be as big as an elephant at birth!

For example, the nervous system begins to form and the heart is beating at approximately three weeks after conception, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.  By five weeks, the baby has obvious facial features and extremities and measures up to six millimeters.   At seven weeks, the child’s ears, fingers and toes develop and he or she will measure 18 millimeters or more from its head to its bottom.

At this time, it is unknown whether RU 486 will have any impact on future pregnancies.  The abortion itself, however, clearly ends the life of that particular developing child and damages family relationships.  In short, babies die, mothers are damaged in the process, and families are left with gaping holes.

It is critical that our young women and men are keenly aware of all the facts surrounding any kind of abortion and this one key reality:  only one of two people, mother and child, undergoing the abortion process will make it out alive!

As prolife individuals, we must continue to stress the importance of life before birth and this undeniable truth:  each of us is created in God’s own image with a unique and special purpose to fulfill.

NOTE:  If you or someone you know has taken RU-486, it may not be too late.  Go to or call (877) 558-0333 for help.


by Suzanne L. Ward
Georgia Right to Life
Public Relations/Education