WASHINGTON -- Abortion opponents contended Sunday that the new abortion pill may be unsafe and raised the possibility of government action to limit its use.
Reform Party presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan called RU-486, the early-abortion method approved Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States, "a human pesticide."
As president, "I would use all the power of my office, including appointments at the FDA, to prevent its being put on the market," Buchanan said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, also on NBC, countered that use of the drug is "up to the woman, not the government."
"This is a pill that's been shown to be safe in Europe for numerous years," Nader said. "And it's preferable to surgical procedure."
Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., said on ABC's "This Week" that there are "a lot of questions" surrounding the safety of the pill -- and that the outcome of next month's election will determine whether Congress has enough votes next year to put limits on its use.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, also on ABC, said the drug had undergone "tremendous review" by the FDA.
"They can protest as much as they want," she said of abortion foes. "This is a safe, effective method."
One lawmaker, Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said after the FDA's decision that he would promote legislation calling for severe limits on which doctors could administer mifepristone, the pill's chemical name.
The Christian Coalition's Pat Robertson said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the drug's approval was a "political ploy" by Democrats to corner Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush on the subject.
Bush, whose father's administration banned RU-486 imports in 1989, opposes abortion. Vice President Gore supports the pill option.
Robertson said the pill should be reviewed to determine if it's a "danger to women."
The pill blocks action of a hormone essential for maintaining pregnancy. It has been used by millions of European women since it was approved nearly a decade ago. Anti-abortion advocates have fought hard to keep the drug out of the United States since it first appeared in France.
FDA Commissioner Jane Henney approved mifepristone based on studies that found it 92 percent to 95 percent effective in causing abortion.
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