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Protesters Demonstrate While Abortion Pill Inventor Speaks

April 30, 1991 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ About 50 anti-abortion activists demonstrated Tuesday at a hotel where the inventor of the French abortion pill spoke to a medical group.

The demonstrators gathered outside a meeting of the American Pediatric Association, where Dr. Etienne-Emile Baulieu spoke about the drug, known as RU-486.

About 60,000 abortions have been performed with RU-486 since France two years ago became the first, and so far only, country to make the pill available. China has approved the drug but it isn’t commercially available there yet. The United States has banned it.

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Protesters said they will fight to keep RU-486 out of circulation in the United States.

″We’re here to say we’re going to boycott and do what we can to stop it,″ said Pam Richard, one of the protesters. ″It’s certainly dangerous to women and lethal to unborn children.″

Experts say the pill alone successfully terminates pregnancies 80 percent of the time. The success rate jumps to 95 percent when a dose of a synthetic prostaglandin hormone is also used.

However, problems have been reported with the drug.

On April 20, France’s Health Ministry put new restrictions on the pill’s use after the first death of a woman under treatment. The ministry banned regular smokers and women over 35 from using RU-486 and cut in half the dosage of prostaglandin used.

Authorities traced the heart attack of the 31-year-old woman, a heavy smoker and mother of 11 who was in her 13th pregnancy, to prostaglandin.