Coroner's Report Links Teen's Death to Abortion Drugs

By Dave Andrusko & Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.

In October, NRL News ran a story on Holly Patterson, the young California teen who died within a week of taking RU486. Pro-lifers were cautious in drawing a direct cause-and-effect, although the linkage appeared clear. Now, the drugs and the death have been officially linked.

"[T]he local coroner concluded that she had died from 'septic shock, due to endomyometritis [inflammation] due to therapeutic, drug-induced abortion,'" the Washington Post reported on November 3. "The report does not describe exactly how and why the medical abortion [the politically correct designation for RU486 abortions] caused Patterson's death - - that information is expected later this month - - but the coroner's conclusion will increase the stakes in what has already become an emotional landmark in the long-running struggle over abortion."

The most important single fact is a young woman died following the death of her unborn baby. But light is also finally being shed on how the potent two-drug RU486 abortion technique is being administered. What is taking place bears little resemblance to the protocol that would be in place if women's health were the highest priority.

Marc Kaufman of the Post put it this way:

"Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers say medical researchers have concluded it is safe and useful to administer the drugs to women up to nine weeks pregnant, while the FDA approved use only up to seven weeks. They say doctors also routinely give women different dosages of the two drugs from those approved by the FDA, that women routinely use the second drug at home rather than in the presence of a doctor or nurse and that they apply it vaginally rather than taking it orally. Patterson apparently met the FDA guidelines for how long she had been pregnant, but otherwise she was medicated in a manner quite different from the FDA-approved protocol."

If you kept count, abortionists are administering RU486 four ways different than recommended by the "FDA-approved protocol."

When abortionists cut the dosage, they cut their costs. At around $90 a pill, the recommended three-pill dose of RU486 costs roughly $270.

Having the woman take the prostaglandin (the second drug given to stimulate powerful uterine contractions to expel the child two days after the RU486) at home rather than during a return visit to the doctor's office makes things easier on the clinic staff, though not necessarily on the patient. Like Holly, the woman faces her crisis moments, when the pain, the bleeding, the cramping, and the abortion begin, all alone.

Even if the vaginal administration of the prostaglandin (rather than the oral administration recommended by the FDA) were shown to produce less nausea, as Planned Parenthood claims, it isn't clear that this is any safer. That is because a patient might directly introduce bacteria into her reproductive system.

Kaufman also wrote, "FDA officials said the agency does not condone some of the ways RU-486 and misoprostol [a prostaglandin to induce contractions] are being administered, but added that state health officials are responsible for challenging any deviations. Nonetheless, in a question-and-answer advisory that accompanied a letter to doctors about mifepristone [RU486] last year, the agency wrote, 'FDA believes that the drug should only be used according to the approved regimen, because the drug was determined to be safe and effective based on clinical trials that used that regimen.'"

Holly's death raises the larger question as to whether the drugs ever really could be used safely (for mothers, at least). Signs of serious infection so closely mimic the drugs' expected process and side effects (nausea, vomiting, cramping, bleeding) that even the most highly trained medical professionals may not immediately realize that they're dealing with a chemical abortion gone awry. That delay can prove deadly.

Naturally, the learning curve is flat for pro-abortionists. "Abortion rights supporters reply that if Patterson did die of complications from her abortion, it would only underscore that the procedure is remarkably safe," according to the Post.