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Thursday, September 28, 2000


Communications Department

FDA Approves the Early Option Pill (RU-486) for American Women

Statement of Vicki Saporta, Executive Director, National Abortion Federation

Today's FDA approval of the early option pill is a milestone in the history of abortion in America.

For the first time, American women who choose abortion will have the option of taking a pill to end a very early pregnancy. They will now have access to a method that has been used safely and effectively by more than 500,000 women in Europe for over a decade.

American women deserve to have access to the full range of safe reproductive health care options. Since Roe v. Wade, the freedom to choose has protected the lives and health of women. Today's approval marks another important milestone in this proud history of safeguarding a woman's health by expanding her choices.

As the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada, the National Abortion Federation has worked for almost 25 years to ensure the safety and accessibility of abortion care for women. Our 360 member facilities include nonprofit and private clinics, women's health centers, Planned Parenthood facilities, and private physicians' offices. Together they provide more than half of the abortions that take place each year in the United States. We know from a recent survey that at least two-thirds, or close to 240, of our members are going to offer the early option pill to their patients once it becomes available.

NAF has proudly taken the lead in ensuring that health care professionals are educated to offer the early option pill to their patients. Over the past year, we have instructed more than 1,800 clinicians in the provision of this method through regional workshops, and seminars at national medical meetings. We have scheduled more accredited trainings in the upcoming months, and will be hosting a satellite video conference to bring this needed education to as many health care providers as possible.

We have also developed a series of multi-media educational resources for a variety of health care professionals. These materials will be widely available and information on how to access them will be posted on our web site. We want to ensure that any health care provider who wants to add the early option pill to the services they offer will have all the information they need to do so safely and effectively. We are also proud to play a leading role in educating patients about this safe, early abortion method.

Our national toll-free Hotline, the only one of its kind in the country, is an important source of information for women seeking an abortion. When a woman calls our Hotline, she can discuss her options with a trained Hotline operator. If she decides that the early option pill is the right option for her, we can refer her to a provider in her area who is offering this new method. Women who call the Hotline can be assured that they will be referred to health care professionals who provide the highest quality care.

To further ensure that women are able to access the information they need, we are developing bilingual patient education materials, along with a public service campaign that will begin this November. The campaign provides important information about this option and directs women to our Hotline and web site. We want to ensure that women facing an unintended pregnancy have the resources they need to make the decision that's right for them.

For several years, we have been hearing from women that they want access to the early option pill. Today's approval is a victory for them, and for all American women who deserve access to the same safe reproductive health care options as women around the world. At long last, science has triumphed over politics.

The National Abortion Federation Hotline, at 1-800-772-9100, operates Monday through Friday, from 9 am until 7 pm EST. NAF's web site on medical abortion, www.earlyoptions.org, describes educational materials that will be available to clinicians and provides information for women considering this option.


The National Abortion Federation is the professional association of abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible.

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