The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a new regulation expanding the time frame in which the abortion drug RU-486 can be given to pregnant women to abort their babies. The new regulation allows the drug to be given up to the 10th week of gestation, increasing the time frame by three weeks.
RU-486 works by blocking progesterone, the naturally occurring hormone produced by a woman’s body during pregnancy that thickens the lining of the uterus thereby providing a hospitable environment for the growing fetus. When RU-486 is given, the progesterone is blocked, the uterus atrophies, and the fetus dies. The woman is then given a second drug, to be taken at home several days later, causing the uterus to contract and expel the dead fetus.
The new FDA regulation also allows the RU-486 to be administered by non-physicians. This is contrary to Missouri law, which requires this drug to be administered by a physician. Fortunately, the regulation cannot override Missouri law. One wonders, however, how vigorously the Missouri law will be enforced in light of this change in the regulations.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement decrying the decision, calling it “irresponsible” and a threat to women’s health. Read more here.