Photo from flickr by Sascha Kohlmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Health Canada approves controversial abortion pill

“Women need support, resources and compassionate care, not more access to abortion”

OTTAWA, ON—Health Canada’s move to approve abortion pill RU-486, also known as mifepristone, is drawing controversy from pro-life physicians in Canada.

“Apart from the obvious threat to the life of the baby, this drug also has serious potential health hazards to the mother,” says Dr. Laura Lewis, a member of Canadian Physicians for Life (CPL).

“The United States Food and Drug Administration adverse events summary of this drug, from its release date in 2000 until 2011, indicates that 14 women have died as a result of using RU-486 to terminate their pregnancy, 612 women have been hospitalized and 339 have required blood transfusions due to excessive blood loss. A Canadian woman died in 2001 while participating in a trial using this medication.”

Mifepristone is a drug that interferes with the hormones necessary to sustain pregnancy. When taken by a pregnant woman in the first trimester, it will cause her to miscarry, resulting in the death of the child.

Touted by many as a safe and accessible option for women who live in areas where abortion is not readily available, Lewis says there is a “serious potential that this oral form of abortion will be used in areas where adequate medical follow-up and emergency intervention are not available.”

This falls short of the World Health Organization’s safe abortion guidelines, she notes, which specify that “every service delivery site must be able to stabilize and treat or refer women with hemorrhage immediately.”

Others are opposed to Health Canada’s approval of RU-486 as well. Mike Schouten, director of, is calling on the Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, to suspend Health Canada’s decision through what is known as an Interim Order.

“Left unchallenged, [the] decision establishes an expansion of access to abortion and is not welcome news for pre-born children in Canada,” says Schouten. “This will undoubtedly add to the over 100,000 lives already lost to abortion every year while also entrenching our increasingly infamous international reputation, alongside North Korea and China, as the only three countries in the entire world with zero laws protecting children in the womb.”

The drug has been awaiting Health Canada’s approval since November 2012, and will be commercially available in Canada by January 2016.

Lewis isn’t convinced women need more access to abortion.

“What many women in Canada do need, and have difficulty accessing, are practical supports, community resources and compassionate care to help them deal with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy.”

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About the author

ChristianWeek Columnist

Josh is a faith and culture commentator, an award-winning writer and columnist, and a nationally-recognized voice in the Canadian faith community. He holds a MDiv from Tyndale Seminary, and is the recipient of the Stanley A. Boswell Expository Preaching Award and the Dr. Ross and Carol Bailey Theology Award. He lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with his wife and their two adorable daughters and blogs at