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Main : body, health, hormones, politics, pregnancy, reproductive technology, trauma

ISBN: 9781742198408
149 pp
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RU 486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals
Renate Klein, Janice Raymond, Lynette Dumble
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An award-winner when first published, this book has become a classic text for health activists and feminists interested in the complexities of how drugs are developed, marketed and sold to women around the world. In this book the authors review the unusual history of the French abortion pill, RU 486 (mifepristone). They scrutinize the science and politics from inception through to its use on women.
•    Is RU 486 a miracle drug for abortion that is a safe and effective alternative to conventional abortion procedures?
•    Does it privatize and de-medicalize the abortion experience?
•    Is its availability a ‘victory’ for women?
•    Is RU 486 safe for use in Third World countries and remote rural areas?
•    Who benefits from chemical abortion and how does RU 486 affect existing abortion services?
The authors argue that the positive claims made for RU 486 (mifepristone) are filled with myths and misconceptions. RU 486 used on its own is a failed abortifacient and needs the addition of a prostaglandin, a dangerous drug. But the 'success' rates of the drug cocktail RU 486/prostaglandin remain at 92 to 95 per cent compared with 98 to 99 per cent for suction abortions. Suction abortions, which are best done with a local anesthetic, involve no harmful drugs and are completed in 30 minutes. By contrast, RU 486/PG abortions last for days, sometimes weeks.
Heavy bleeding, transfusions, vomiting, severe pain and infection are among the unpredictable adverse effects. Women have died from sepsis and cardiovascular events. RU 486/PG abortion benefits the medical profession, drug companies and government health economies.

Through painstaking research and analysis the authors uncover the truth that chemical abortion is ill-conceived and unethical. They caution that low-tech abortion services are under threat as the mainstream hails RU 486 abortion as 'safe and effective' which it is not.
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Australian Human Rights Award for Literature and Other Writing, Certificate of Commendation for Non-fiction, 1992
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This book makes an important contribution to the debate surrounding RU 486, a debate which the tragedies of history – those associated with other reproductive technologies – tell us, we have every need to involve ourselves in, to acquaint ourselves with and above all, to have our say in. RU 486 Misconceptions, Myths and Morals is, as the authors themselves point out, unique even in a feminist scholarship (since many feminists have given the drug their support), for its resounding criticism of RU 486. 

Kim Webster, Australian Women’s Book Review, Vol 4

This is an eminently readable and thought-provoking book. The authors’ concern for the rights and welfare of women is evident throughout … RU 486 Misconceptions, Myths and Morals was [first] published in 1991, and it still provides the most up-to-date, independent analysis of information available to us. 

Anna Fitzpatrick, The Women’s Library Newsletter Vol 3, No. 4

RU 486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals  is an important contribution to a discussion which until recently has been dominated by drug company press releases. 

Claudine Holt, Green Left

Table of Contents


Preface to 2013 edition by Renate Klein

The 2013 edition contains a new preface written by Renate Klein in which she explains why it is time to republish the book. Much has happened since the first publication and it’s important to document the drug’s history and current information. When the first edition was published an abortion using RU 486 and the accompanying prostaglandin medication was only available in France and the UK. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that women in the USA could access the drug for termination of pregnancy up to 49 days from the last period. By 2011 there were 50 countries where approval for RU 486 had been given, and in 2012 approval was given by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) for MS Health, Marie Stopes International to be the importer and distributor of RU 486 in Australia.


Chapter One

The History of RU 486

Events in France

International Affirmation and Criticism

The Role of the International Press

The Father of the Abortion Pill?

Chapter Two

Claims for RU 486/PG Abortion

Privacy versus Control

Safety versus Contraindications




Chemical Abortion versus Conventional Abortion

Chapter Three

What is RU 486 and How Does It Work?

Hormonal Interaction

How RU 486 Works

Other Sites of Actions and Applications of RU 486

The Effect of RU 486 on Women’s Menstrual Cycles, Fertility, Eggs and Embryos

Chapter Four

The Role of Prostaglandins: Known and Unknown Dangers

What are Prostaglandins?

Prostaglandins in the Treatment of Human Health Disorders

The Role and Application of Prostaglandins in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Prostaglandin/Antiprogesterone-Induced Abortion



Chapter One

Chapter Three

Chapter Four


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