Pat Robertson on RU-486: “lo and behold, people are dying”

On the November 16 edition of The Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) news program The 700 Club, CBN and Christian Coalition of America founder and host Reverend Pat Robertson stated: “Well, we warned about RU-486 when it first was coming in from France. We did a story about the dangers, and lo and behold, people are dying.”

While three of the 360,000 women who have taken RU-486 (also known as mifepristone or the abortion pill) have died, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not definitively linked the drug to any of the deaths, according to a November 16 HealthDay report. At a November 16 news conference, Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said that the FDA does not “have information to indicate that the drug caused” the three deaths or the 600 adverse “events” experienced by women who took the drug, USA Today reported on November 17.

Though the FDA has recently decided to label RU-486 with stronger warnings, “FDA officials say complications with RU-486 remain rare and that they have no evidence directly connecting it to any of the deaths, but they want doctors and patients to be aware of the risk of infection or heavy bleeding,” WebMD Medical News reported on November 16.

Further, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) has stated that “medical evidence indicates that mifepristone is as safe or safer than other commonly used medications.” A March 2004 AHRP article pointed to a recent study on acetaminophen (sold under the brand name Tylenol) published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and a study on the anti-impotence drug Viagra published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and concluded: “In the case of mifepristone safety, mifepristone is safer than Viagra (5 deaths per 100,000 prescriptions). Acetaminophen (Tylenol) causes more deaths each year: 150 people are estimated to die each year in the U.S. from acetaminophen-induced liver failure.”

The FDA approved RU-486 in 2000 “for the termination of early pregnancy, defined as 49 days or less.”

The 700 Club airs on the ABC Family cable network, FamilyNet, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and numerous U.S. television stations. It claims a daily audience of approximately one million viewers.