DULUTH (AP) -- Doctors in rural Minnesota are expected to feel the most pressure to prescribe the abortion pill known as RU-486 when it arrives in the state in the next week or so.
Some experts believe rural doctors will receive the most pressure because they are farthest away from cities where traditional abortions can be provided.
"I think there will be more pressure on rural doctors than urban doctors because we can continue our current referral process without undue hardship on our patients," said Dr. Janette Strathy, an obstetrician and gynecologist in St. Louis Park. "But rural doctors must be concerned about the backlash from pro-life factions."
Initially, however, most doctors who prescribe the abortion pill will be those who already perform abortions.
"Mostly the abortion providers throughout the country will be providing it," said Tina Welsh, executive director of the Women's Health Center in Duluth, which expects to begin offering women the pill shortly.
The pill will enable women to have abortions without surgery and in the privacy of their doctors' offices. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in September. It had already been approved for use in Europe.
Not all rural doctors are feeling the pressure. Dr. Raymond Christensen, a family practice physician in Moose Lake, said the pill has had no affect his clinic or practice.
"It has not come before our board at all, so, from our standpoint, it's a nonissue," he said.
The pill, known in Europe as RU-486, is called mifepristone here and will be marketed under the brand name Mifeprex. It will be available only in a doctor's office or a clinic.
Although any physician can prescribe the drug, it will be sold only to doctors who undergo special training, can determine the gestational age of the fetus, have an ultrasound machine in the office to rule out tubal pregnancies and are prepared to perform a surgical abortion or have a qualified abortion provider on standby in the event the drug fails to trigger a miscarriage.
Under Minnesota law, any doctor prescribing the drug must obtain a personal abortion doctor number from the state Health Department and, in turn, will be required to report all medical abortions to the department.
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