Friday, July 31, 2015

Canada's "Conservative" government legalizes RU-486 abortion pill

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

As reported by Helen Branswell of Canadian Press, July 30, 2015:

TORONTO — A quarter century after women in France were first given access to it, the abortion drug known as RU-486 is finally going to be available in Canada.

Health Canada confirmed late Wednesday that it had approved the drug for use here, 2 1/2 years after the manufacturer’s application was submitted. Women will need to obtain a prescription from a doctor to purchase the drug.

“The application has been before Health Canada since December 2012, so it is long overdue that they approve this very safe and effective method of early abortion care that millions of women around the world have been able to access since 1988,” said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation and its Canadian offshoot, NAF Canada.

“No one can claim that they fast-tracked the approval process and didn’t very thoroughly and completely review the application.”

NAF Canada represents the health-care professionals who provide most of the abortion care in this country. The group spearheaded efforts to bring the drug to Canada.

The drug has been available since 1988 in France and nearly as long in Britain. The drug was approved for use in the United States in 2000. Saporta said women in 60 countries have access to the drug, which is used to safely terminate a pregnancy.

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose had little to say Wednesday night about her department’s decision.

“Drug approval decisions are arms-length decisions made by Health Canada officials based on analysis by Health Canada scientists,” a spokesperson for Ambrose said in an email.

The drug will be sold under the brand name Mifegymiso in Canada. It is made by Linepharma International Limited.

It is often called mifepristone. But in fact Mifegymiso is two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The former blocks production of the hormone progesterone, needed to sustain a pregnancy. The latter prompts the uterus to contract and expel the placenta and the fetus.

Studies have shown the drug can be used safely as late as 70 days into a pregnancy, although it is thought Health Canada may have set an earlier limit on the use of the drug.

Reproductive medicine experts have called the drug the best known option for abortion and have been advocating for its approval in Canada.

While some countries allow the drug to be dispensed by pharmacists, Health Canada has opted not to go that route.

Saporta said initially the drug will probably only be available through health-care professionals who already provide abortion services. But she said it’s hoped that over time more doctors will agree to prescribe the drug — especially those serving remote communities or working in areas where women have to travel long distances to see a doctor who will perform an abortion.

“Mifepristone holds the promise of improving access to abortion care for women in more rural communities where there isn’t a current abortion provider,” she said.

Saporta said it is likely the drug will only become available in Canada in early 2016.
And as reported by John Cotter of Canadian Press, July 30, 2015:

Conservative cabinet ministers shied away Thursday from questions about Health Canada's decision to approve the abortion drug known as RU-486.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay declined to comment on the decision during a stop in Calgary to make an unrelated announcement.

"Oh gosh. I think that would best be directed to (Health) Minister (Rona) Ambrose," he said.

"It is an issue of course for women, families, Canadians everywhere, but I think your question would best be directed to Health Canada.

"Personal opinions are best kept personal."

Health Canada confirmed late Wednesday that it has approved the drug for use here, a decision that comes 2 1/2 years after the manufacturer's application was submitted.

Women will need to obtain a prescription from a doctor to purchase the pill.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney and Michelle Rempel, minister of state for western economic diversification, were also in Calgary on Thursday and declined to comment.

Ambrose told reporters in St. Albert, Alta., that the decision did not rest with her.

"It's out of my hands and the decision is final," she said.

"Any of those details you would have to speak to the officials at Health Canada and the scientists that actually manage the regulatory approval process. I'm not involved in it."

Ambrose cancelled two events scheduled for Thursday afternoon and Friday in Edmonton and area. No reason was given.

A Conservative MP from Saskatchewan strongly condemned the government for approving the drug.

"It is a dangerous combination of drugs that destroys a woman's tissues in the womb in order to kill her preborn child," David Anderson, the member for Cypress Hills-Grasslands, said in a release.

"I am extremely disappointed that Health Canada would see this as acceptable to Canadians."

Anderson declined an interview request.

The RU-486 drug has been available since 1988 in France and was approved for use in the United States in 2000.

Prof. Ashley Waddington, a family planning expert at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., praised Health Canada's decision to approve the abortion pill.

She called it a step in the right direction for the government and Canadian women.

Waddington noted the move comes 10 years after the World Health Organization endorsed the drug on its list of essential medicines that all countries should have available.

"To be clear, medical abortion has been available in Canada for decades. However, Canadian women have had to rely on less effective, less safe medications for this purpose," she said.

"This is a step in the right direction towards ensuring Canadian women have access to legal first trimester abortion care that is as safe and accessible as it is in other parts of the world."

Vicki Saporta, CEO of the National Abortion Federation and its Canadian offshoot, NAF Canada, has said the drug probably won't be available in Canada until early next year.

The federal election campaign is expected to begin as early as this weekend.
Ladies and gentlemen, your "Conservative" government under the dictatorship leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper! Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, fearmongers on the "left" of the political spectrum (for those who prefer to use the increasingly irrelevant terms such as "left" and "right") insist that Mr. Harper wants to impose a Christian theocracy upon the country that's still officially known as Canada (see, for example, this article from 2012).

The reader of the articles above will note the typical cowardice of the cabinet ministers. I'm especially impressed by the reaction of Rona "Big Hair" Ambrose in refusing to take responsibility for a decision made by her department. If the decision didn't rest with Ms. Ambrose, and she doesn't approve of the policy, then she should resign from the cabinet. If the decision wasn't made by Ms. Ambrose, then it must have been made at a higher level, such as the Prime Minister's Office. The implication that civil servants are initiating government policy on their own without government approval is absurd; it doesn't work that way. If Ms. Ambrose isn't directly lying, she's certainly creating a false impression; either is typical behaviour from Harperites.

I have news for you, Ms. Ambrose: what goes on in your department is your responsibility, and any cabinet minister who refuses to take responsibility for her department should be fired. Not that this is anything new--in the late 1980s, when I first heard of RU-486, I wrote the Health Minister at the time, Jake Epp--who's allegedly a Christian--to express my opposition to it ever being legalized in Canada, and I couldn't believe the wimpy response I got from him. Somewhere I still have the letter, and it said something to the effect that he operated under the constraints of the Canada Health Act and couldn't do anything about it. Apparently Mr. Epp didn't think it was his job as a cabinet minister (in a "Progressive Conservative" government) to influence policy, which made me wonder why he was in the cabinet. It's a matter of record that in 1991 Mr. Epp voted in favour of abortion--a vote that didn't escape the notice and criticism of his fellow Mennonites in Steinbach, Manitoba.

The reader will also note that the Member of Parliament who is quoted as expressing disapproval of the decision is a backbencher. That's not a coincidence; any member of Mr. Harper's caucus who dares to bring up the subject of abortion--especially to express disapproval--can expect to remain in the back benches (to quote a former political science instructor of mine, "so far back in the benches, his head is touching the curtain"). Spineless Stephen has made it clear that abortion is a subject that's not open to discussion (one of these days--or years--I may do a long-overdue post on this).

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