US blocks abortion by pill

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THE HOUSE of Representatives in the United States yesterday voted by 223 to 202 for a measure that will prevent the Food and Drug Administration from approving an abortion pill.

The amendment, by Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, bans the FDA from using federal funds to approve or regulate a drug that chemically induces abortion.

It will apply to the drug known as RU 486, the French abortion pill also named mifepristone. Mr Coburn said approval and regulation of the drug would be "killing babies" and so it violated the FDA mission of approving drugs that are "safe and effective". Several other Republicans said a pill to induce an early abortion would make ending a pregnancy as insignificant as fighting a headache.

On the other side, abortion rights advocates said Congress should not be telling FDA scientists what drugs were safe or unsafe, and that this measure would interfere with a woman's legal right to choose an early abortion.