NRL News

Behind the Abortion Industry Push for Chemical Abortions: Reason #2 of 5

by | Apr 12, 2013

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research

Editor’s note. On Wednesday Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon provided NRL News Today readers with a succinct explanation of the “5 Reasons behind the Abortion Industry Push for Chemical Abortions.” As promised, beginning on Thursday, Dr. O’Bannon is fleshing out one of the five reasons, one per day. Chemical abortions are a crucially important “growth center” for the Abortion Industry.

RU48665Reason #2. Seeing Younger Unborn Babies as Easier Targets to Dehumanize

In October of 1989, Harrison Hickman, a pollster for what was then called the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), told attendees at NARAL’s 20th anniversary conference that

“Probably nothing has been as damaging to our cause as the advances in technology which have allowed pictures of the developing fetus, because people now talk about the fetus in much different terms than they did 15 years ago.  They talk about it as a human being, which is not something I have an easy answer on how to cure.”

Lawrence Lader, one of those who took the lead in trying to bring RU486 to the United States, explicitly linked the push for the abortion pill with efforts to shift the argument to earlier stages of fetal development in his 1991 book, RU-486..

“… RU-486 works at such an early stage that moderate opponents of abortion might be persuaded to reexamine their objections in light of the drug’s biological significance.  When a woman taking the pill produces only a heavy menstrual flow, there is absolutely no sign of personhood, nothing ever resembling a finger or toe.  What, then, could a moderate observer think has been killed?… Resembling miscarriage, it simply sheds early embryonic development during a brief period of slightly heavy bleeding followed by a lighter flow that lasts about a week.  Referring to the fetus at this early stage, Dr. David Grimes, who has tested RU-486 at the University of Southern California, explains, ‘You can’t even find it.’”

The fetology here is bizarrely selective and highly misleading and the assessment and the description of the chemical abortion process so rosy as to border on the ridiculous. But Lader was not offering an objective assessment or rationale, but laying out a marketing campaign.  This was a not-so-subtle effort to revive the thoroughly discredited “blob of tissue” argument and to make RU486 seem like a benign wonder drug (see Reason #1 at

From the moment of conception, the unborn child is a marvel of purposeful complexity.  Right away, the child’s unique DNA initiates the rapid growth, differentiation, and specialization that quickly go on to form the layers that will  give rise to the brain, nervous system, skin, digestive system, muscles, bones, and circulatory system.  The child’s heart is already beating at week three, before many women even realize they are pregnant or consider a chemical abortion.

Against Lader’s claim that there is “no sign of personhood, nothing ever resembling a finger or toe,” we should note that, even at this early stage, we can easily pick out features such as the head, spinal cord, and arm buds.  The unborn child’s fingers Lader can’t seem to find begin to form around the 6th week, at a time when chemical abortions are currently being done in the United States.

This isn’t merely a theoretical dispute. Women who’ve had these chemical abortions report seeing not “blobs of tissue,” but fetuses with “tiny fists” (Newsweek, 9/18/95), “two dark spots like eyes and a little skeleton not quite formed” (Health, Jan-Feb, 1995, also Time, 12/5/94).  Against Grimes assurances that “you can’t even find” the fetus, in an interview with the New York Times. women who took the abortion pill warned potential users of the drug that those who did not want know when the embryo came out would not like the procedure. “With this method, you are aware of everything that is happening” one of those women told the Times (NY Times, 10/28/94).

As far as Lader’s claim that this resembles miscarriage and “a brief period of slightly heavy bleeding,” women who’ve had these abortions put it somewhat differently, talking of “gushing” blood, bleeding that goes on for weeks, painful cramps, nausea, and vomiting, side effects often severe enough in themselves to put women in the hospital (see  Newsweek 9/18/95, Time 12/5/94, Annals of Pharmacotherapy, February 2006, various documents at FDA ‘Mifeprex (mifepristone) Information,” available here  , accessed 4/12/13).

Unless they have done their own research, or found more comprehensive material from reputable sources, women are not likely to hear about this until perhaps they’ve paid their money and actually seen their aborted child.

This encounter with their child is not something mentioned in the advertisements, or even in the FDA medication guide. The website of the U.S. distributor of the drug says the embryo “is not yet formed,”, accessed 4/12/13), while Planned Parenthood mentions the possibility of seeing “large blood clots or tissue” in its description of “medication abortion,” but that’s about it (, accessed 4/8/13).

Promoted this way, though, the abortion industry hopes it can sell abortions to women who are afraid of surgery, or may have grown skittish about aborting a child that looks too much like some of the popular pictures they’ve seen in the some of the baby books, magazine features, or TV fetology specials.

Telling the truth would be bad for business.

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Categories: RU486