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August 17, 2015

The federal government's July 29 announcement of approval of the RU-486 mifepristone abortion drug was clearly timed to minimize controversy. A decision on the drug was expected in the fall, but came instead in the dead of summer when people's attention is riveted by sandflies and sunny skies. News is of no interest. Any interest stirred by the announcement was quickly diverted by the calling of a federal election.

Canada will thus become the 58th country to allow use of mifepristone. The drug works by blocking production of progesterone, the hormone that prepares a woman's uterine lining to support the life of the unborn child. Once the uterus is unable to provide a home for the child, a woman takes a second drug, misoprostol, which causes contractions and brings about a miscarriage.

Health Canada has deemed the procedure to be safe enough - for the mother, at least. Nevertheless, studies show that between 4.5 and 7.9 per cent of women who use the drug require surgery to complete the abortion. Serious complications are experienced by 0.4 per cent of those who use the drug, and reports indicate that 14 of the more than 1.5 million American women using mifepristone since 2011 have died. Mifepristone regularly causes abdominal pain, uterine cramping and vaginal bleeding for up to 30 days.

In short, dangers are associated with women using the drug.

Mifepristone's supporters claim it is most improbable that its availability will increase the number of abortions in Canada. In their next breath, they say the drug is needed to make abortion more available in regions without ready access to abortion clinics. The two claims are contradictory: If no more babies will be aborted, why call for greater access?

In a 2010 interview, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life raised another concern. Easy access to such drugs trivializes abortion by treating it "almost like an annoying cold to be gotten ridden of with a pill," said Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula.

Catholic News Service reported the recollections of the Spanish monsignor, who is also a medical doctor and who served in Armenia after the 1998 earthquake. Many of the women patients he worked with in Armenia had already had more than 20 abortions and "for them abortion had become like having a coffee."

Abortion receives far less societal resistance and much greater acceptance in Canada today than it did in 1969 when it was legalized. The failure of members of Parliament to speak out against the July 29 decision is but one indication of this collapse in resistance.

Ours is an abortion culture, a culture of death as St. John Paul II labelled it. Health Canada's approval of mifepristone is a significant step toward making abortion even more acceptable. Our country is walking blindly, ever deeper into darkness.