.- The World Health Organization has added two abortifacient drugs on its list of essential medicines for developing countries, says a report published in the British Medical Journal July 9. The two-drug combination has been presented as an alternative to surgical abortion, which leads to the deaths of an estimated 68,000 women each year. WHO argues the drugs would reduce these deaths.
The combination includes mifepristone, followed some 36 to 48 hours later by misoprostol, to induce abortion within nine weeks of pregnancy. According to WHO guidelines, the drugs would be administered under "close medical supervision."
This drug combination already exists in the UK, France, Germany, the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India, New Zealand and South Africa.
However, the decision by WHO has been harshly criticized. According to an April 21 report in the Guardian, the U.S. did not support the addition of the drugs to the list and placed pressure on WHO not to include them.
In order to deal with the possible controversy in some developing countries, WHO has recommended that the drugs be used “where permitted under national law and where culturally acceptable.”
The British Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said it "hoped enough cultures rejected the drugs as they would bring innocent life to an end."