(CNSNews.com) - The family of a teenage girl who died after taking an abortion-inducing drug is suing the manufacturer of RU-486 for failing to warn about the drug's serious health risks.
The lawsuit was filed last week in Alameda County, Calif., on behalf of Monty and Deborah Patterson, the parents of 18-year-old Holly Patterson, who died in September 2003 of septic shock after taking RU-486.
Her parents said they knew nothing about Holly's pregnancy, which was about seven weeks along, or her attempt to end it.
One pro-life group called the Pattersons' lawsuit "well-deserved."
"Holly Patterson paid the ultimate price for the Food and Drug Administration buckling to abortion proponents' pressure to approve a drug that has only one purpose -- to kill a human being, said Wendy Wright, the senior policy director for Concerned Women for America, a public policy group.
The Pattersons' lawsuit names Population Council, which sponsored the development of mifepristone; Danco, the New York-based company that distributes RU-486; Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, where Holly got the abortion pill; and ValleyCare Health System, which runs the hospital where Holly died.
According to CWA, "Population Council conducted substandard, biased trials on RU-486, Danco knowingly distributes it to abortionists that violate the requirements, and Planned Parenthood treats women like Holly as collateral damage in their pursuit of more abortions."
CWA raised all of those points in a petition urging the FDA to pull RU-486 off the market. The FDA did not go that far; instead, in November, it ordered that new health warnings be attached to RU-486, which also is known as mifepristone or by its trade name Mifeprex.
"The recent revelations of the FDA's negligence with other drugs corroborates what Concerned Women for America already exposed about the agency's treatment of RU-486," Wright said. She accused "abortion enthusiasts" of ignoring women's health in their rush to demand access to RU-486.
"Holly Patterson is not the only young woman who has suffered from the abortion industry's callousness," Wright said.
In fact, the Pattersons' lawsuit notes that a Canadian woman taking RU-486 died in 2001 - two years before Holly took the drug - something that Danco did not publicize.
Concerned Women for America said it hopes the Pattersons' boldness in filing a lawsuit will encourage other RU- 486 victims to come forward - "and hold accountable those responsible for the injuries of their loved ones."
Danco has not commented on the lawsuit, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Danco's director of marketing and public affairs issued a statement saying there is "no causal relationship" between the use of RU-486 and Holly Patterson's death.
"Serious and sometimes fatal infections and bleeding unfortunately occur very rarely following miscarriage, surgical and medical abortions, including following Mifeprex use, and childbirth," the newspaper quoted Cynthia Summers as saying.
Planned Parenthood also defends the safety of medical abortions.
In a November 2004 press release, Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, insisted that abortions produced by RU-486 are "extremely safe and effective."
"More than a million women worldwide have used medication abortion safely," Cullins said. "Since it was approved by the FDA in September 2001, women and doctors nationwide report high levels of success and satisfaction with this early abortion option."
See Earlier Stories:
FDA Issues New Warnings About Abortion Drug (Nov. 16, 2004)
Congressmen Seek Suspension of Abortion Drug (Nov. 7, 2004)
RU-486 Critics Counter Claims About Abortion Drug (Oct. 13, 2003)