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Back To Vidyya Abortion Pill Approved In Taiwan

Pill Approved To Prevent Women From Taking Drug On Their Own

Taiwan on Thursday approved the sale of the abortion pill RU-486, conceding that a ban on the drug had not stopped women from taking it to end unwanted pregnancies.

The pill was approved to prevent women from taking the drug on their own, risking excessive bleeding and other dangers, said Health Administration Director Lee Ming-liang.

Thousands of women, mostly teen-agers, have illegally obtained the pill from drug stores or on the Internet, Lee said.

Medical supervision is required to ensure safe use of the drug. Two Taiwan women died and about 1,000 were treated for side effects from using the drug last year, he told reporters.

In Asia, only Taiwan and China have approved use of RU-486.

The abortion pill causes contractions that expel an embryo from the uterus. It can be given up to seven weeks after the start of the last menstrual period.

Feminists and gynecologists had lobbied for its approval.

``We are concerned about the growing number of school girls seeking abortions,'' said Yao Shu-mei, an executive of the Modern Women Foundation. ``But you can't prevent abortions simply by banning the drug.''

Adult Taiwanese women can get legal abortions simply by persuading their doctors that a pregnancy could cause physical or psychological harm. But girls under the age of 18 must obtain parental approval.

Girls who do not want their parents to learn they are pregnant often seek illegal abortions.

Approval of RU-486 appeared unlikely to change the situation since under the new rules girls under 18 must still have parental consent to obtain the drug from a doctor.

The government has yet to say what steps it will take to prevent illegal sales of the drug.

About 50,000 abortions were performed under the national health program last year. Gynecologists say the actual number is several times higher.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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