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House Bans FDA Approval of Abortifacients

For the second year in a row, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 217-214 to ban the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from testing, developing, or approving abortion-inducing drugs.

The language was included as part of a $61 billion agriculture appropriations bill. The Senate never acted on a similar bill in 1998, and is unlikely to do so this year.

During the House debate, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) referred to RU 486, the French abortion pill, as a "baby pesticide." Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) argued that the bill was a blatant attempt to limit women's constitutional right to seek an abortion, and said, "Science, not politics, should determine what drugs are approved."

Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, a ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee on agriculture appropriations, argued "This amendment would absolutely set a dangerous precedent. Congress has never legislated the approval or disapproval of any drug. That is the job of the Food and Drug Administration."

RU 486, known as mifepristone in the United States, is a safe and effective non-surgical method of early abortion. In addition to its use as an abortifacient, the drug shows promise in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers, meningiomas, endometriosis, Cushing's Syndrome, HIV and other cortisol-related conditions and diseases. Check out the Feminist Majority Foundation's Reports on Mifepristone for further information on the drug's proven and potential uses.

Media Resources: AP and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - June 8 and 9, 1999