Abortion battle's end looms

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 19, 2011

Having been a family planning activist since 1965, I have witnessed and shared many battles against those who seek to limit women's choices as to how many children they bear, when and under what conditions.

Recently, a group called Venture Strategies has helped distribute misoprostol to more than a dozen countries in Asia and Africa. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), originally used for ulcers and now off-patent and costing about 10 cents per pill, misoprostol helps stop hemorrhaging during childbirth. Women also can use it to terminate early pregnancies.

The Rockefeller Commission's famous 1972 recommendation favoring abortion choice so galvanized the politically influential Roman Catholic Church in America that it mounted an all-out attack on all family planning. Subsequently, many U.S. civic and political leaders who'd had good support for family planning could not maintain that effective leadership.

A powerful U.S. force fostering domestic and international family planning services languished as world population needlessly rose from 3.9 billion in 1972 to 6.9 billion in 2010. U.S. population went from 210 million in 1972 to 310 million now, principally as the result of unchecked legal and illegal immigration, aided and abetted by the Catholic Church and those seeking cheap foreign labor.

Dr. Stephen D. Mumford fully discusses this tragic history at population-security.org. Why am I reiterating it? The advocates of abortion choice are going to win their battle in the next decade or so!

Why? Because the women of the world have already discovered and are widely apprised of ways to abort using medical means that need no attending physician or clinic. Wow! Imagine: Women, as they should have been all along, will soon be in charge.

Some governments will try to stop importation of such medicines, but as one family planning expert opined, "Stopping medical abortion usage by women will be like stopping porn on the Internet!"

Sadly, some who were for choice now seem to show a weakness of spine in calling for compromise with the anti-abortion crowd just as we are close to winning. What compromise could there be? This is a civil rights issue.

In November, as a member of a team surveying successful family planning programs in Cambodia and Vietnam -- where abortion is legal and widely and safely practiced -- I learned how these safe, economical and available pills routinely help women and their families.

In Cambodia, a product called Medabon is being provided through private clinics and pharmacies carefully vetted in its use. Its promoters and managers, based in Asia, apparently are not going to bother with the U.S. FDA now, although U.S. women would certainly find this product appealing. Used as prescribed, it can induce early abortions up to 63 days of pregnancy.

Medical abortions now constitute a third of abortions obtained by U.S. women and the number is expected to rise. Women opting for a clinic need a trained provider. While pills take two or three days to work, they are private and much cheaper. And the "morning after" pill can be used immediately if contraception failed or was not used.

How can women be stopped from using medicines that are already out there or will be in abundance? They can't and won't be. Experts have estimated that half of the last century's births were unintended, but with rapid distribution of all methods, that need not be true in this century.

Those of us who favor all choices for fecundity control will not let up despite this major medical abortion breakthrough. Abortion as family planning is not ideal, of course. An inexpensive nonsurgical sterilization method would back up this coming progress. FDA approval for marketing one such method, "QS," is being sought (see isafonline.org).

Is the day nearly here when women can call the shots on childbearing? Yes!

Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.