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Global Monitor

A Conspiracy So Vast … The Misoprostol Conundrum

Misoprostol is not just a problem in Latin America. [For more information on the Misoprostol crisis facing the pro-life movement, please visit our Latin American website, at Ed.]

Virtually every abortion-minded international group has signed on to promote chemical abortion by means of Misoprostol. It is not just IPPF, Ipas, Ibis, Guttmacher, Marie Stopes and Gynuity but also the World Bank, World Health Organization, and the UNFPA. With such vast institutional support, its primary promoters — IPPF and Gynuity — are able to carry out massive studies on the best Misoprostol regimen for causing an abortion, such as the coordinated study taking place in 11 teaching hospitals in six countries — Vietnam, Georgia, Cuba, India, Armenia and Mongolia.1 Misoprostol abortion is also pushed by groups with apparently unlimited resources who use subsidies and “social marketing” to ensure that pharmacies on every continent stock the drug.

Unlike RU-486, Misoprostol will prove impossible to ban because it is very useful in gynecology and obstetrics for legitimate clinical circumstance. It is effective in treating miscarriages and postpartum hemorrhage, and for inducing labor. Hemorrhage is one of the major causes of maternal death in Africa, for example, and Misoprostol has been shown to be useful in treating it. Moreover, Misoprostol is stable, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and is easily administered in either a pill or suppository form. The available alternatives must be injected, refrigerated, or given in an IV.

International Abortion Gloats About Breaking the Law

The abortion movement is nothing if not bold. They brag in public meetings about performing surgical abortions in countries, like Kenya, where the procedure remains illegal. They openly publish articles about performing chemical abortions in Latin American countries in which the practice is forbidden by law. I recently came across a piece entitled “Misoprostol alone for early medical abortion in a Latin American clinic setting.”2

The author, one Deborah Billings, readily admits that her study was carried out in a Latin American clinic “operating in a legally restrictive setting,” by which she obviously means that the unborn child is protected by law. Nevertheless, she writes how the clinic in question ignored the laws of the country it was operating in and performed many thousands of vacuum aspiration and Misoprostol abortions during the year of the study.

Billings is herself an employee of Ipas, the infamous promoter of manual vacuum aspirators in Latin America and elsewhere. But Ipas and other abortion-minded groups like Gynuity have in recent years begun to promote the use of Misoprostol as well, especially south of the border. It is easily obtained in drugstores, both because drugstores in Latin America do not require prescriptions, and also because it has a legitimate medical use (it is used to treat gastric ulcers). It can be self-administered sublingually or vaginally and, taken in sufficient dosage, will cause an abortion early in pregnancy.

Billings is surely right when she concludes that “Having a clinic where staff are knowledgeable and experienced in Misoprostol use is particularly important in settings where abortion is stigmatized, unsafe abortion common and access to safe services limited.” Why? Because when you are breaking the law on a daily basis, it is safer to simply hand out abortion pills and tell the women to come back in 72 hours than to perform a suction abortion within the clinic itself. That way, when the women suffer complications at home, these can’t be traced back as easily to the illegal actions of clinic personnel.


1 Helena von Hertzen et al., “Efficacy of two intervals and two routes of administration of Misoprostol for termination of early pregnancy: a randomized controlled equivalence trial,” The Lancet 2007; 369: 1938–46.

2 Deborah L. Billings, Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 12, issue 24, Supplement 1, November 2004, pp. 57–64.

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