With Little Explanation,
Planned Parenthood Alters RU486 Protocol
While admitting no blame and offering little information on the latest women to die after taking the abortion drug at its clinics, on the same day the FDA issued its latest alert, Planned Parenthood announced that it would no longer be recommending vaginal administration of the prostaglandin in the second stage of the chemical abortion process.
Planned Parenthood made no statements regarding other deviations it has taken from the FDA protocol. However, an unidentified spokesperson from the organization did tell a reporter from the New York Times that it would continue having its chemical abortion patients take the prostaglandin at home rather than at the clinics (3/18/06).
Recent changes found on the Planned Parenthood web site (www.plannedparenthood.org) also indicate that the organization will now limit chemical abortions to women 56 days after their last menstrual period, a week earlier than it defended on its web site last year, but still a week beyond the time limit of the FDA protocol.
Planned Parenthood never spells out its full protocol in its press releases or online. However the March 2006 revisions to the PPFA web site continue to mention that a "large majority of clinicians exercise their legal right to adapt the approved [FDA] protocol based on scientific evidence."
It goes on to speak of the effectiveness of reduced dosages of RU486, extending the time period for use of the drug, and eliminating the second visit and allowing the woman to administer the prostaglandin to herself at home, all parts of the alternative NAF protocol.
In its March 17, 2006, statement announcing the protocol change, Planned Parenthood says that one woman died several days after the procedure while another died weeks after hers. "We do not know the exact cause of these incidents," the organization says, but argues that "At this time, none of these deaths have been directly attributed to mifepristone [RU-486]." It says that it is "seeking additional information about these tragic events."
Planned Parenthood offers vague assurances that "the health and safety of our patients" are the organization's top priorities. PPFA also tells people that it keeps track of medical research, and says that it has closely monitored these chemically induced abortions since it began offering them in January 2001. Otherwise it offers no explicit information as to why it has chosen to make this particular change, beyond declaring that, "Due to health concerns about infection rates and adverse events, we are updating our medical protocol for medication abortion."
Planned Parenthood's reticence may have as much to do with legal liability as it does with lack of medical knowledge. Two of the organization's California affiliates have already been named in suits brought by the families of two earlier Planned Parenthood clients who died (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/22/04, and Los Angeles Times, 10/17/06).
How Many More Women Will Die?
Whether Planned Parenthood's recent changes will improve the safety of the drugs or simply buy the organization more time until the next fatality is revealed is unknown at this point.
But what is undeniable in this whole fiasco is the hubris that characterizes the entire abortion industry. This arrogance leads it to assume it knows better than government health experts, to presume that guidelines don't apply to it, and to act as if it alone knows what women need.
We know all too well what Planned Parenthood's plans are for unborn children. Do these latest events give us an idea of what its plans are for their parents?