Warning to Doctors concerning RU-486
by Pat Goltz
Recently the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the human pesticide RU-486. It is the hope of those who believe abortion is a legitimate answer to women's problems that this will make abortion more readily available to women who seek one. I do not believe that this hope is well founded, but more importantly, I want to caution doctors about prescribing it.
There are lawyers waiting in the wings to file suit against doctors foolish enough to prescribe RU-486. Just how much liability will a doctor incur if he prescribes it? I would like to mention some considerations for such a doctor to think about.
First of all, an abortion by RU-486 is not the answer to making abortion easier for women. It means going to the doctor at least twice, preferably three times, over a span of a couple of weeks. It means that the pain of the abortion will be prolonged for most women. It means that some women will change their minds before the abortion is complete, and they will have to go through with it anyway. It means that many women will actually abort when they are alone at home. A certain percentage of these women will see their children. According to what I have been told by women themselves, women who have this experience often suffer severe emotional damage as a result. Somewhere between 5 and 23% of the women who have an abortion by RU-486 will fail to abort and require surgery anyway. If a doctor is unwilling to provide a surgical abortion, and has no backup arrangement, this can prove to be a problem. This means subjecting a woman to the risks of two methods of abortion, not just one. The percentage of women who fail to abort depends partly on gestational age. How sure are you of your skills at diagnosing gestational age? Approximately 1.5% of the women who have RU-486 abortions bleed uncontrollably. This means that a certain percentage will die, a certain percentage will require blood transfusions, which will result in a certain percentage contracting hepatitis or AIDS, and a certain percentage will require emergency hysterectomy, permanently robbing them of their reproductive capacities. All of these are potential sources of liability for the doctor prescribing RU-486.
Another factor is that it would appear that because these abortions are so difficult, and women often have protracted pain, and sometimes see their babies, women appear to be coming out of denial much sooner. The major reason why there have been so few lawsuits against abortionists for damage to women is because most women don't come out of denial before the statute of limitations runs. With this new method, that could easily change, and I personally think it will.
Some new information that I have received indicates that it is known that RU-486 migrates to the ovaries, where it enters the mother's ova. We have no idea what kind of defects this could cause in a woman's future children. If you don't want to be sued for the cost of lifetime care of a child with a defect, don't touch RU-486!
If you are a doctor, and you have not provided abortions in the past, you should be aware that the cost of medical malpractice insurance for abortionists is the highest of any specialty, and many abortionists are not insurable at all. They operate without insurance, but they have rendered themselves judgment-proof so that their victims have no recourse. If this is the kind of medicine you want to practice, then maybe RU-486 is for you. But it is not in the best interests of women. Furthermore, if other doctors or your neighbors find out you are prescribing RU-486, you may well suffer socially. The method of abortion isn't nearly as important as the fact that you are doing abortions.
If you are a doctor, but you have not provided abortions in the past, please think about what I am about to say, very carefully. Think of how you would feel if one of your patients burst into your office and said, or served you with a lawsuit that said, "You, doctor, helped me kill my baby!" If you would be troubled by this, don't touch this drug! Because in the final analysis, it doesn't really matter whether the woman is right or wrong, as far as your liability is concerned. What matters is what that woman believes about what you did to her. And I have talked to too many women who think they killed their babies to believe that this will never happen to you. So, I feel the need to warn you. Please take this warning seriously. If you are not screening women beforehand to determine that this will never be a problem, you are engaged in medical malpractice, and the jury ought to throw the book at you. And if you think that you can reliably make this determination, then you are much more perceptive than anyone else I have ever run into. Think about it.