Antiprogestin drugs: ethical issues.

R. Macklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ethical issues of RU-486 in the US are the same as those of any new medical technology, but the politics of abortion can tempt us to believe that antiprogestins pose new ethical hazards. Good facts are needed to have good ethics. Risk-benefit assessments reveal medical facts and begin with clinical trials, evaluating RU-486's effectiveness and the degree and likelihood it causes harm, discomfort, and side effects. They should also consider social and psychological risks and benefits. Clinical trails in Los Angeles show that women who had previously undergone a surgical abortion method found RU-486 to be a less violent abortion method. Antiabortion proponents misconstrue this benefit to be a disadvantage, because they believe women undergoing abortion should suffer from pain and suffering. Even though an international convention ensures reproductive freedom for women, women must be informed about and have access to all family planning services in order to exercise this right. Ethics and the law require voluntary, informed consent. Yet, the US prevents workers at federally-funded family planning programs from providing clients any information on abortion, thereby violating this ethical requirement. Ethical precepts are also violated by denying women their right to privacy and by the punitive actions taken against women undergoing abortion by physicians, other health workers, and antiabortion proponents. Ru-486 allows women to undergo an abortion in private. Abortion opponents consider this privacy a disadvantage, because they lose targets for picketing, harassment, and violence. They believe that the improved access to abortion awarded by RU-486 would make abortion emotionally easier for women, leading to an increase in the number of abortions. Yet, there is no empirical evidence to support this. Again they see a benefit (decreased psychological stress) as a disadvantage. Ethical arguments show that RU-486 provides women greater health benefits, fosters their right to reproductive freedom, and improves the prospects for expanded social justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-219
Number of pages5
JournalLaw, medicine & health care : a publication of the American Society of Law & Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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