From the beginning of his research Étienne-Émile Baulieu pretended that that the chemical abortion pill was not really abortion.
In a recent profile in the New York Times, reporter Pam Belluck lays out the dark history of the chemical abortion pill. Meant as a glowing profile of Étienne-Émile Baulieu, known as the “Father of the Abortion Pill,” the article demonstrates the deception used to commercialize lethal pills that have, to date, killed millions of preborn babies.
Activists try to claim that the chemical abortion pill, now commercially available as Mifepristone, has many functions and benefits and just so happens to cause the death of preborn babies. To hear it from the mouth of the creator, Baulieu, the chemical abortion pill was always intended as an “unpregnancy pill.” From the beginning, he envisioned a pharmaceutical designed to disrupt a healthy pregnancy resulting in a dead child.
Baulieu, now 96, claims to have come up with the idea more than 50 years ago. Already working as a medical doctor and researcher in human hormones, Baulieu worked to develop the chemical abortion pill, also known as RU-486 (because it was the 38,486th molecule developed by the French drug developer Roussel-Uclaf, which had ties to Nazi Germany) .
Recognizing how shocking the chemical abortion pill would be, Baulieu then devoted decades of his life to carefully crafting the marketing of RU-486 to win approval. He succeeded first in several European countries beginning with France in 1988, then, after years of effort and further deception, in the United States in 2000.
To make RU-486 more appealing and overcome people’s moral outrage at killing innocent preborn children, Baulieu tried to distance it from abortion. He invented the word “contragestion” to describe the way that the chemicals counteracted the protective and nurturing effects of progesterone in normal gestation.
According to Baulieu’s misleading description, the chemical abortion pill could be “the middle ground between preventing fertilization and surgically removing a fetus.” There is no meaningful difference: whether a baby’s body is ripped apart by surgical implements or starved to death and forcibly removed from the mother’s womb, elective abortion is the deliberate and unjust ending of a human life.
Deceptive marketing started long before Baulieu began trying to convince health regulators to authorize the use of the lethal pharmaceutical. Belluck is not the first journalist to describe how Baulieu misled pharmaceutical executives in the initial stages of chemical development. Because the head of Hoechst AG, which controlled Roussel-Uclaf, was opposed to abortion, Baulieu pretended that his research into counteracting progesterone was intended to help reduce the effects of cortisol in astronauts in high-stress situations and certain chronic illnesses.
The non-existent distinction between abortion and the chemical abortion pill seems very important to Baulieu and his justification for his actions. According to him, “My intention was to give women a choice that, through a pill, respects their privacy and physical integrity and allows them to totally avoid the aggression of surgery.” This is not reality.
As we witness the continued expansion of the chemical abortion pill in increasingly risky and traumatic contexts, it is all too clear that “self-managed” abortions do not benefit women and do not protect mothers from the reality of ending the lives of their preborn babies. A mother who sees the lifeless body of her baby, small but fully formed, cannot be told that she is simply “unpregnant.” She knows that she is the mother of a dead baby.
Eerily, Baulieu uses an image of a woman he saw begging to justify his deadly work. While visiting India with a group of intellectuals, a woman cradling the body of her dead baby approached him asking for money. Baulieu said: “It really caused an emotion for me, which has persisted all my life. I think always of Calcutta as something which has pushed me to really work hard.” Baulieu may no longer have to see the bodies of the babies mothers have lost when society tells them that they are not worthy of support, but they still exist.
Women are also harmed by RU-486. Updated figures from the Food and Drug Administration indicate that at least 28 women have died from complications of the chemical abortion pill since its approval in 2000. Beyond that, studies show that one-third of women who undergo an abortion using the chemical abortion pill suffer from emotional trauma following the experience. Additionally, complications can result in infertility and other injuries for women.
These devastating outcomes are not surprising given that Baulieu was inspired by the development of the contraceptive pill by his mentor Gregory Pinkus. Pinkus encouraged him to travel to Puerto Rico to see his clinical trials of oral contraceptives, and Baulieu told the New York Times: “When I saw what they were doing in Puerto Rico, it was remarkable for the treatment of women.”
This is a shockingly naïve description given that Pinkus’s notoriously unethical experiments on human subjects in Puerto Rico resulted in serious illness and complications for women who were dismissed and ignored. Three women even died while participating in the trial, but there was no investigation into whether the contraceptive pill contributed to their deaths.
In classical misogynistic fashion, Baulieu claims, “I like women,” but ignores the physical and emotional pain of the women he inflicts his solution on.
Baulieu dismisses accusations that his deadly work is on the scale of Hitler and Stalin. Laughing at the idea, Baulieu uses his Jewish heritage to deflect any criticism. Of course, no one is accusing him of anti-Semitism. The similarity is that Hitler, Mao, Stalin and other tyrants were responsible for millions of deaths because they viewed certain groups of human beings as inferior and thought the solution to their problems was to kill en masse. The chemical abortion pill, RU-486, continues to kill upwards of 500,000 preborn babies in the United States alone each year.
Blind to reality, Baulieu calls the chemical abortion pill “the œuvre I dreamed of with artist friends in New York.” An instrument of death that was intended to kill babies from the very beginning, the chemical abortion pill is synonymous with destruction and injustice.
Anna K. Reynolds is a freelance wordsmith. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Dallas and holds a Master of Arts in theology from Ave Maria University…. More by Anna Reynolds.
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