WASHINGTON – Three anti-abortion groups petitioned the Bush administration Wednesday to pull the abortion pill RU-486 off the market in a move that is sure to re-energize abortion politics this year.
"I expect the president to do the right thing because it's the right thing. This isn't a political ploy and this really is not an issue of people who are in favor of abortion versus people who are not," said Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women of America, one of the groups seeking a ban on the drug.
The other two groups seeking action are the Christian Medical Association and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
RU-486 is prescribed to chemically induce an abortion in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Abortion opponents say it is dangerous and accuse the Clinton administration of forcing the Food and Drug Administration to rush the pill, which has been used in Europe for years, to market.
But in the United States, RU-486 has been blamed for severe side effects, including two cases of ruptured ectopic pregnancies -- one that ended in death; two serious bacterial infections of which one also ended in death; and one heart attack.
In their petition to the FDA, CWA and others complained that the FDA approved RU-486, also known as mifeprex, without all the appropriate medical data. It said the FDA used mismatched medical standards to give approval and failed to test the drug on teens, who are sure to use it.
Danco Laboratories of New York, which distributes RU-486, said the drug should not be used in ectopic pregnancies, and that there was no confirmed link between the drug and other medical problems.
Abortion rights advocates say the risks relating to RU-486 are small compared with the benefits, which they say include wider access to pregnancy-ending methods that are less invasive than surgical procedures.
"There is no drug, no medical regimen, no medical choice chosen by individual people that does not carry some risks," said Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
During his election campaign, President Bush promised to review the evidence of health dangers related to RU-486. But history is against the RU-486 opponents since no citizen petitions in the last five years has led the FDA to pull a drug off the market.
Fox News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.