WASHINGTON (March 29, 2005) — An official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed continued support today for the "RU-486 Suspension and Review Act of 2005," known as "Holly's Law." Deirdre A. McQuade, Director of Planning and Information at the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, addressed a congressional press conference sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the bill's author, and other supporters of the legislation.
"The Bishops' Conference opposes every abortion as the taking of innocent human life," said Ms. McQuade. "However, the RU-486 method compounds this offense by also threatening the lives, fertility, and well-being of healthy women."
Calling Holly's Law a "very modest bill," Ms. McQuade called for a House vote at the earliest possible opportunity: "How long will Congress stand idle while more women suffer and die from RU-486? Mifeprex must come off the market now."
"It is time to take a close second look at this potent, risky and poorly-scrutinized abortion drug. Women deserve better from their federal government," she said.
Holly's Law is named in memory of Holly Patterson, a young California woman who had just turned 18 when she died from toxic shock after undergoing an RU-486 abortion. Eight women are reported to have died in the United States after RU-486 abortions.
Other organizations participating in the press conference included Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life Committee, Democrats for Life, and Americans United for Life.
The full text of Ms. McQuade's statement follows:
"Good afternoon. I am Deirdre McQuade, Director of Planning and Information at the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I want to thank Congressman Smith for inviting us to voice our support for H.R. 1079, the 'RU-486 Suspension and Review Act of 2005', also known as 'Holly's Law'.
"The Bishops' Conference opposes every abortion as the taking of innocent human life. However, the RU-486 method compounds this offense by also threatening the lives, fertility, and well-being of healthy women.
"According to The New England Journal of Medicine (12/1/05), RU-486 abortions are ten times more likely to kill a woman than are surgical abortions in early pregnancy. Thus far the Food and Drug Administration's response has been limited to mere health advisories and amended drug labeling.
"Most of the known maternal fatalities are from a type of toxic shock syndrome caused by Clostridium sordellii. The FDA has announced it will hold a public workshop in May to discuss the need for research on emerging clostridial disease. The workshop is hardly a substitute for the provisions in Holly's Law, as it neither addresses the distinct risks posed by Mifeprex (Danco's brand name for RU-486), nor offers any immediate protection of women's lives. Such studies can take months – even years – to propose, fund, and yield results for mainstream medical practice.
"In the meantime, women who undergo RU-486 abortions remain at risk. How long will Congress stand idle while more women suffer and die from RU-486? Mifeprex must come off the market now.
"Holly's Law is not a radical measure, but a very modest bill intended to serve the health of women. It provides only for temporary suspension of the FDA's approval of RU-486, so the Comptroller General can review whether the FDA's process for approving the drug complied with statutory mandates – mandates designed to protect the American people from unsafe drugs and from drug companies willing to profit from careless research.
"If supporters of Mifeprex believe the FDA followed the law in the approval process, they should have nothing to fear from the proposed review. But if the FDA wrongly expedited approval of this abortifacient drug, the agency should be brought to account and the drug taken off the market.
"It is time to take a close second look at this potent, risky and poorly-scrutinized abortion drug. Women deserve better from their federal government. We urge Congress to bring this measure to a vote at the earliest possible opportunity. Thank you."