|Few doctors offer RU-486
According to a September 24, 2001 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, only 1% of general practitioners and 6% of gynecologists gave RU-486 to a patient in the first year that it was available in the United States. Among doctors who specialize in abortion, only 12% have offered RU-486.70
Clinics which do a high volume of business are more likely to offer RU-486 abortions. The National Abortion Federation [NAF] estimates that half of NAF- member clinics offer mifepristone.71
Almost all college and university health centers will not dispense RU-486, because, they explain, "they can't meet FDA guidelines for administering it safely."72
Reasons doctors don't offer RU-486
"In the Kaiser survey, discussed above, 37 percent of the gynecologists surveyed said they had not prescribed the drug because they personally opposed its use."73 While some doctors were concerned about protests or violence, others gave the following reasons: "lack of patient demand" (62%); "not interested in performing abortions" (49%); and "did not have office space to set aside for women taking the pill and awaiting its effects" (48%). |
RU-486 vs. surgical abortion
Dr. Mitchell Creinin conducts seminars for doctors who are considering giving RU-486 to their patients. The New York Times describes his experience this way:
[While] hundreds of doctors - family practitioners and obstetricians - have attended his seminars thinking that they could begin providing mifepristone to their patients seeking abortions, their eagerness to prescribe the pill often diminishes as they heard him talk.
He told them about the office visits a woman must make, the counseling a doctor must do, the backup medical services that must be provided and the state laws that must be followed.
"When you go through everything, they just say, 'Oh no. This is a lot more complicated than I thought. I have to think about it.'" Dr. Creinin said. "Most doctors who answered the surveys saying they are interested in offering this, change their minds when you tell them what's involved."74
Cost a Factor
Some news reports say that an RU-486 abortion may cost about $75 - $100 more than a surgical abortion, but other providers say that they have to charge double the price of a surgical abortion because of the extra visits, counseling and monitoring involved.75
A first trimester surgical abortion generally costs $300-$375. Two clinics mentioned in press accounts said they charge $600 for an RU-486 abortion.76
What some doctors say about the cost:
Even among the 27% of gynecologists nationwide who already offer surgical abortion, many who had expected to use mifepristone have since backed away from it. In large part, that's because few anticipated the drug's manufacturer, Danco Laboratories, would charge as much as it does for the three-pill regimen: $270.
"The medication cost alone is so high, and when you add the physician fee and the cost of ultrasound, the price was prohibitive," said one Bergen County [N.J.] abortion provider who planned to offer it. "Once we presented it to our patients, they all said no."
. . . .
Another North Jersey gynecologist ... has offered the 600-milligram regimen of mifepristone for the past eight months - at double the price of an early surgical abortion, which averages about $300. [Few] patients ... end up using it.77
70 L. Szabo, "Not Many Dispense Pill that Was Expected to Revolutionize Abortion," The Virginian-Pilot, September 24, 2001.
71 J. Duin, "Just 7% of U.S. Doctors Prescribe Abortion Pill': Poll Cites Controversy, Low Demand," The Washington Times, September 25, 2001, at A3.
72 L. Reisberg, "College Health Centers Face a New Abortion Question," The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 15, 2000, at A53.
73 S. Russell, "Survey Shows Low Demand for RU-486 Abortion Pill," SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle, on-line edition), September 24, 2001.
74 G. Kolata, "Doctors Looking at Abortion Pill Are Often Unaware of Obstacles," The New York Times, September 30, 2000, at A1, A11.
75 L. Szabo, "Not Many Dispense Pill that Was Expected to Revolutionize Abortion," The Virginian-Pilot, September 24, 2001; R. Padawer, "Abortion Pill Hasn't Had Impact that Was Expected," The Record (Bergen County, N.J.), September 25, 2001.
77 R. Padawer, "Abortion Pill Hasn't Had Impact that Was Expected," The Record (Bergen County, N.J.), September 25, 2001.