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Bill Introduced to Restrict Use of the Abortion Pill

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Joining the National Abortion Federation in protesting the legislation were several other members of Congress, as well as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood of America.

But despite warning that this legislation is a serious threat and a signal of the current administration's intention to eventually outlaw abortions, opponents of the legislation predicted that it has little chance of passing the Senate, even if passed by the House, where antiabortion forces enjoy their strongest support.

"A lot of members, who might otherwise vote for such things as a ban on partial-birth abortions, have clear trouble with telling the FDA what to do," explained Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.).

And some members of Congress would be deterred from voting for the proposed bill because the drug also is being tested and used for the treatment of breast cancer, brain tumors, and other illnesses, she said.

Since becoming available in November, about 100 abortion clinics have begun offering Mifeprex to patients, according to the National Abortion Federation, which represents approximately 400 clinics nationwide. The drug also is approved in 17 other countries and has been used by more than half a million women in Europe and millions of women in China.

Patients in the U.S. can get Mifeprex only from doctors that have signed an agreement to follow the guidelines set by the FDA. Besides requiring doctors to at least have access to an abortion specialist, those guidelines also require regular checkups to ensure that the treatment worked and that the women who took it did not suffer from excessive bleeding, a complication that occurs in about 1% of patients.

FDA officials say these guidelines were based upon science alone. FDA officials also say the drug was approved under the "fast-track" process because the use of this mechanism gave the agency the ability to control how the drug is prescribed.

But even the potential defeat of this proposed legislation is unlikely to end the debate surrounding Mifeprex's approval. Besides challenging the drug's safety, opponents of the drug also have raised questions regarding Cytotec, a drug that must be combined with Mifeprex to complete the abortion.

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