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Comparing Apples, Oranges and Abortion Pills

In his relentless attempt at winning the most obnoxious blogger of the year award, Steve Verdon over at OTB shall we we say "disrespectfully disagrees" with Michelle Malkin about the abortion pill, RU-486.

Calling Michelle Malkin on Her Nonsense

A few days ago Michelle Malkin had a post noting what a horribly horribly dangerous drug RU-486 is. Bill Ardolino called her on that one and pointed out that the actually numbers imply that Michelle is pushing crap statistics for ideological reasons.

So, let's get this straight: assuming accurate data (admittedly a big assumption), a total of ten women (reported) have died, presumably related to a fatal interaction with the drug, in 16 years of international use. Of those ten, five occurred in the United States, where 460,000 women have taken the drug safely since its approval, five years ago.

That equals a mortality rate of 0.0000108, meaning that 1 out of every 92,000 people that took the drug have died.

Bill compared it among other things to penicillin,

Yeah, so can penicillin, at a greater mortality rate than RU-486:

The risk of penicillin fatal allergy is about 1 in 75,000.

Anytime I hear of a story about public health scares, I think of the great Alar hoax, where million of people quit buying apples because Meryl Streep went before Congress and said we were poisoning our children with Alar sprayed on apples. If you are too young to remember it, this was the talk of the country for about 6 months. 60 Minutes did a hit piece story on it and it was in every magazine and newspaper. Thousands of apple growers lost their farms because you couldn't give an apple away. And it turned out Alar was indeed bad for you... If you drank a 55 gallon drum of it, then you might get cancer or something. The whole thing was a hoax.

So when I hear a public heath statistic I wonder, "How many apples is that?"

The United States produces a little over 200 million cartons of apples per year. There are roughly 90 apples per case, so that's about 18 billion apples. If one out of 92,000 apples killed the person who ate it, that would be 195,652 dead people per year or 536 people PER DAY.

Now stop and consider if 536 people died every day from eating apples. Congress would be holding hearings, the news networks would be covering the story 24/7 and survivors of the dead apple eaters would be lynching former apple growers.

The point is obvious. Killing one 1 of 92,000 users of your product is nothing to be proud of. While that mortality rate might be acceptable in medicine, that mortality rate on another product would get it banned.

So why don't we ban Amoxicillin? Simply because it saves many times more lives than it costs. The good outweighs the bad. Where Steve and Bill's analogy falls down is that Amoxicillin saves children, RU486 kills them.

We derive good from Amoxicillin. Do we derive good from RU486? Well, I'll leave that to you the reader.. I don't see any.

But comparing the 2 numbers is, in many ways, like comparing apples and oranges. Sure they are somewhat analogous because they are both pharmaceuticals but that has more to do with form factor than relative worth to a society. If you are look at the larger picture of whether a product should be banned, that is completely irrelevant to the discussion.

Steve goes on to write:

We all have our preconceived notions, biases and beliefs. Ideally we don't want these things to get in the way of scientific research or even our evaluation of information... but that is probably asking too much.

I agree. And I'm glad he would never believe something obviously untrue because it meet his political agenda.

People's thoughts on banning of RU-486 is going to closely parallel their beliefs on abortion. And for the record, I'm not arguing in this piece that we should or shouldn't... But I can say without a doubt; if it were apples, we'd ban it.


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Comparing Apples, Oranges and Abortion Pills:

» SMEGMASTER.COM linked with Walking the Plank into the RU-486 Debate

» INDC Journal linked with RU-486 Addendum

» Wallo World linked with WhatDo They Say About Statistics?

» Guide to Midwestern Culture linked with Saturday Blog Fights

Comments (61)

I see you got some Steve De... (Below threshold)

I see you got some Steve Derangement Syndrome there, eh Paul.

And I see you dishonestly moved the goal posts too. Gee what a surprise.

It just goes to show that s... (Below threshold)
-S-:

It just goes to show that some humans will go to any lengths to save the whales, contain twenty cats in their homes and murder human children.

What was dishonest and how ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

What was dishonest and how did I move the goal posts?

The issue in Malkin's origi... (Below threshold)

The issue in Malkin's original post was the danger of RU-486 to the women who take it, not the effects on the fetuses. That initial post was misleading. Michelle even admits that she should have noted the points Bill Ardolino brings up in her latest post. By shifting the focus to the intended purpose of RU-486 and to abortion in general you have employed, knowingly IMO, a red herring.

The data right now shows that RU-486 appears safe to the women who take it as an abortifacient. On the intended purpose of RU-486--i.e. causing a very early term abortion--I don't dispute. Arguing against RU-486 on the moral/ethical nature of the drugs intended purpose is an honest argument. Trying to portray the drug as unsafe when by all appearances it isn't is dishonest.

I also like how you go from the fake Alar scare to the (based on the evidence so far) fake RU-486 scare without blinking an eye and come out in favor of the fake scare after deriding your first fake scare.

Steve: Every drug is unsafe... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

Steve: Every drug is unsafe to some degree. What makes those risks acceptable is the benifit that those drugs offer. Thus, while the risks of chemo-therapy are far less that of leaving agressive cancers alone and therefore justify their use, it would be unreasonable to use a medicine/treatment with a similar risk in order to treat the common cold. This is the principle that Paul was arguing on. Yes, penicillin does have a higher mortality rate, but that's acceptable because of what the mortality rate would be WITHOUT penicillin.

The issue is not how safe RU486 is in regard to any other medicine. The issue is is what we are getting from RU486 worth the 1 in 92,000 deaths, or is that cost excessive? If it is excessive, then RU486 is unsafe, regardless of how many people have been killed by penicillin.

I wouldn't want my wife to ... (Below threshold)
OC Chuck:

I wouldn't want my wife to eat that apple.

I am not a big fan of abort... (Below threshold)
Howard:

I am not a big fan of abortion. But when you say RU486 doesn't save lives you are forgetting the statistics on mother mortality during birth. They are about 1 in 10,000 for natural birth and several times higher for c-sections.

Two things:First o... (Below threshold)
Bob:

Two things:

First of all, as you said, the risk of mortality standards for food versus those for pharmaceuticals are vastly different animals--so why bring it up at all?

Secondly, as much as I hate supporting the pro-choice movement, both the government and the medical community agree that the unborn children killed by RU-486 don't count as human beings. Further, it's the law in this country that women have the right to first-term elective abortion--thus whether or not you and I see a need for RU-486, so long as it's deemed safe by the FDA (which is what this whole circus is over, I know), women have the right to it. Period.

Cheers,
Bob

The issue is is what we ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The issue is is what we are getting from RU486 worth the 1 in 92,000 deaths, or is that cost excessive? If it is excessive, then RU486 is unsafe

So, JSchuler (and possibly Paul, but who knows with all that equivocation), essentially you think the FDA should be making moral decisions for all of us, and restricting the public from purchasing certain products based on those decisions? If so, are you sure about that?

The issue in Malkin's or... (Below threshold)
Paul:

The issue in Malkin's original post was the danger of RU-486 to the women who take it, not the effects on the fetuses. ... By shifting the focus to the intended purpose of RU-486 and to abortion in general you have employed, knowingly IMO, a red herring.

No No No No... Nonsense.

You can do the same cost vs benifit for the automobile or any other product. You want to do a cost vs benifit by only looking at that fact that (by your metric) the cost is cheap. That's silly.

A band new Ping Zing for $1 is not a deal for me... I don't golf.

I'm not shifting the focus to abortion. The pill is used to create abortions. It is imposible to consider the cost vs benift without mentioning abortion... be realistic Steve.

The data right now shows that RU-486 appears safe to the women who take it as an abortifacient.

Safe compared to what?

You want to compare it to an antibiotic which have saved (probably) millions of lives. Undeniably antibiotics have an incredible benefit.

Here's the crux of it Steve: Can you genuinely compare the benefit to society of antibiotics to the benefit of RU-486?

If you can't, then your comparing the cost is the red-herring.

Make sense yet?

JSchuler:So, I gue... (Below threshold)
jYt:

JSchuler:

So, I guess Viagra should be looooooong gone then, since it saves 0 lives and has a significantly higher mortality rate.

On the other hand, RU-486 essentailly replaces abortion, thus saving lives and certainly saving anguish, time, and money for the person taking the drug.

Until you make abortions illegal, the very, very small risk of this drug becomes moot. Comparing it against what it is replacing makes sense, and that's still a big win from every perspective.

Paul,From your las... (Below threshold)
jYt:

Paul,

From your last post, you seem to be saying the same thing that I did, but you fail to make the comparison that you yourself call out for. Compare the safety of RU-486 to the safety of abortions. Then you'll see why suggesting pulling it from the market while abortions are legal makes no sense.

Make sense now?

Steve- see also JSchuler at... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Steve- see also JSchuler at August 18, 2005 08:21 PM

Mantis:

essentially you think the FDA should be making moral decisions for all of us, and restricting the public from purchasing certain products based on those decisions? If so, are you sure about that?

Welcome to reality mantis. (why don't you capitalize that m? ;-)

Every decision government makes is a moral one. Tax the rich guy and give it to the poor guy? Smacks of a moral decision to me. (ok so you want something less extreme?)

Murder? More moralism from government. (Still less extreme you say?) Child p0rn? Moralism. Rap Lyrics? More of the same.

The FDA (really by definition) decides everyday the cost to society vs the benefit. Remember a few months ago they banned all those decongestants because of the heart damage? (Wasn't it decongestants?)

That's a moral decision. How many people will we let have their hearts damaged so a greater number can use the product????

I know you get there often mantis, but welcome to reality.

So, I guess Viagra shoul... (Below threshold)
Paul:

So, I guess Viagra should be looooooong gone then, since it saves 0 lives and has a significantly higher mortality rate.

And this applies to your other post too.

You blew it. I'm not coming out for or against RU-486. I SPECIFICALLY said that.

I AM absolutely saying that comparing the costs of 2 products without comparing the benefits is bogus.

Hence the name of the post.

Oh and Steve...... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Oh and Steve...

I also like how you go from the fake Alar scare to the (based on the evidence so far) fake RU-486 scare without blinking an eye and come out in favor of the fake scare after deriding your first fake scare.

The only thing I "came out in favor of" was an analogy without a hole in it the size of New Hampshire.

First, comparing RU-486 to ... (Below threshold)
jYt:

First, comparing RU-486 to penicillin is silly. You and I agree on that. It would be as stupid as comparing it to apples.

However, I believe you wrote this: "So why don't we ban Amoxicillin? Simply because it saves many times more lives than it costs. The good outweighs the bad."

And yet you fail to then make the obvious comparison of RU-486 vs what you later admit it would be "impossible to consider the cost benefit without", the very thing that RU-486 is replacing in many cases, an abortion. If RU-486 is saving lives by obviating the need for abortions, then that's a pretty obvious case fornot talking about banning it. Is this getting through?

And I blew it? I didn't make a post with the above analysis and then totally fail to carry it through...

Oh, and my Viagra point was to JSchuler's post, not to anything you said. If you read the first line, that should have been clear.

No No no... You are still a... (Below threshold)
Paul:

No No no... You are still assuming I'm arguing FOR something...

And yet you fail to then make the obvious comparison of RU-486 vs what you later admit it would be "impossible to consider the cost benefit without", the very thing that RU-486 is replacing in many cases, an abortion. If RU-486 is saving lives by obviating the need for abortions, then that's a pretty obvious case fornot talking about banning it. Is this getting through?

I'm not arguing for or against RU-486 so you can't fault me for my argument not being complete.

I AM absolutely arguing that their numbers are completely flawed. They only want to look at one set of numbers and not the other.

That is no different then what they accuse Malkin of doing... No?

P.S. If anything, your pointing out another variable they did not consider supports my point that their argument is flawed. Is that getting thru?

(in different words)<... (Below threshold)
Paul:

(in different words)

If I made the following statement; "More people die in cars than after taking Viagra so we should ban cars" you would think me crazed.

Or

Video games are cheaper than food so we should buy food instead of video games.

If you can eat a video game it is a good argument. If it ain't you're gonna by mighty hungry.

You can't say that antibiotics and RU-486 cost the same so they are of the same worth to society. It's just a flawed argument.

OK, let me try again with a... (Below threshold)
jYt:

OK, let me try again with another direct quote from you:

"We derive good from Amoxicillin. Do we derive good from RU486? Well, I'll leave that to you the reader.. I don't see any."

If RU486 is safer than having an abortion and is used instead of having an abortion by a person that would have otherwise had an abortion, isn't that an obvious and unequivocal good? Failing to realize that simple and obvious fact while writing the above sentence is just plain bad analysis. You can try to deny it and claim that you were writing about something else, but it's there in black and white.

As I stated before, I also disagree with the comparison of any anti-biotics to RU-486. There is just no logical comparison. Making that point is fine. Let's not try to pretend you didn't make other less sensible ones as well.

jyt: please indicate where ... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

jyt: please indicate where in my post I made any statement that said RU-486 should or should not be banned. You would need that to justify your sarcastic statement that Viagra should be banned.

I was simply backing up Paul's point that you do not determine the safety of a drug simply by comparing its mortality rate to the mortality rates of dissimilar treatments. Instead, you look at a cost/benifit analysis for that particular drug. This was the ENTIRE POINT of Paul's article. Man, this is why I hate argueing about abortion. Everyone always jumps to the wrong conclusions, build straw men and then proceed to beat the crap out of them without actually listening to the other side's arguements, and nothing ever gets accomplished. It's like everybody just turned into Lefties.

Every decision governmen... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Every decision government makes is a moral one.

Ok, and I have no objection to that when it is elected officials who are making those decisions, like laws. My problem is agencies like the FDA making those decisions for us. Plus I didn't say that they didn't already make moral decisions for us, I asked if they should.

But the problem here is the idea of the FDA making moral decisions for us well outside its purview. The decision by that agency should and does center around whether a drug is safe and effective. Does it do what it is supposed to do, in this case terminate a pregnancy, and does it do that safely? If you consider the safety in question to be that of the zygote or embryo, then the question of effectiveness becomes paradoxical. You can no longer consider the effectiveness of the drug if you have to consider the well being of the unborn when the drug is designed to destroy the unborn. Thus the FDA is then making a moral decision rather than a practical one based on their calculus of "safe and effective".

In any case, my point is, if a government body is going to make that decision, it ought to be Congress (or do we want activist FDA officials in addition to activist judges?).

"Instead, you look... (Below threshold)
jYt:

"Instead, you look at a cost/benifit analysis for that particular drug. "

That's what I've been inviting Paul to do for a few posts now. Compare the cost/benefits of RU-486 to its legal alternative, abortion. If it's eassier, safer, less painful, and less costly than abortion, then it's an obvious win? Perhaps you'd like to pick up that argument for Paul.

And, feel free to tell me about how Viagra's CBA works out to the benefit of society to refute my "sarcastic" point. I admit that I did make tha assumption that a drug that failed your CBA test would be banned by you. If you plan to do the analysis and then say that it doesn't matter, then why do the analysis?

mantis: how do you determin... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

mantis: how do you determine safety? You still need to make a moral decision. As the example Paul gave: how many lives is it worth for people to be free of nasal congestion? It's a moral decision. Safety is always a relative term that relies on moral judgements. Thus, the question really is should government be involved in regulating drugs at all?

Uh, jYt, I've got news for ... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

Uh, jYt, I've got news for you: I didn't do a CBA in my post, I simply said one was required. That means the CBA you're challenging came from you. So, I guess its up to you to answer your own question about Viagra. ;)

JSchuler,From CBA ... (Below threshold)
jYt:

JSchuler,

From CBA to CYA, I see.

I also see that you're unwilling to actually address the issue of CBA that I gave for RU-486 vs abortion. Good choice on your part, since it totally destroyed the issues you raised above.

So, I guess we're agreed then that RU-486 is an unequivocal good, assuming that abortion is legal. In that case, you can keep taking your Viagra, and I promise I won't try to take it away. See how easy that was.

mantis Should the ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

mantis

Should the EPA make environmental rules?

Should the IRS make make tax rules?

Should everything be an act of congress?

"Instead, you look at a ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

"Instead, you look at a cost/benifit analysis for that particular drug. "

That's what I've been inviting Paul to do for a few posts now. Compare the cost/benefits of RU-486 to its legal alternative, abortion.

---

I also see that you're unwilling to actually address the issue of CBA that I gave for RU-486 vs abortion. Good choice on your part, since it totally destroyed the issues you raised above

jYt you are being an idiot.

You are trying to bait people into a discussion of abortion. This post actually has nothing to do with abortion. Either you are incapable of understanding that or you are being a troll. Either way, I'll be quick on the delete/ban button.

For the second time. Your pointing out ANOTHER variable that Steve/Bill did not consider only supports my point that their argument was flawed.

We are not discussing abortion and you are invited not to.

Have I made myself clear?

Hey, I chose the battles I ... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

Hey, I chose the battles I can win :)

Although we are not in agreement that RU-486 is an unequivocal good "assuming that abortion is legal." You would have to demonstrate to me that the existance of RU-486 has not facilitated abortions that otherwise would not have happened before I would agree to that, a subject that is not at issue here. However, I would agree with you that RU-486 is an unequivocal good assuming there were no moral issues in regards to abortion.

mantis...Some fede... (Below threshold)
Paul:

mantis...

Some federal agency (If I thought about it I could figure out which one) has made a law that says that for every N number of parking spaces you have in your parking lot, X of them need to be handicapped.

Clearly being nice to handicapped people is a moral issue and it is a federal law. Should congress have to make this rule or can the agency make the rule?

Paul: I believe that was th... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

Paul: I believe that was the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed by Congress and would meet mantis's requirement that moral decisions be made only by those directly accountable to the voters. Of course, I could be wrong.

Paul,To quote Al P... (Below threshold)
jYt:

Paul,

To quote Al Pacino in GlenGarry GlenRoss, "What a big man you are."

>"This post actually has nothing to do with abortion."
Need I remind you AGAIN, your words, not mine were "It is imposible to consider the cost vs benift without mentioning abortion."

>"For the second time. Your pointing out ANOTHER variable that Steve/Bill did not consider only supports my point that their argument was flawed."
For the third time, I agree that their argument was flawed. Yours is too, dummy.

I'm sorry that neither you nor JSchuler can address this point. I truly am. I'm sure that you're willing to ban people in all threads for posting items that were off the topic of the original post in your judgement. You may have your hands full. I can see -S-'s post above (not to mention countless others) is going to get her banned as well.

So, be quick on that delete/ban button, my friend. It's easier than addressing this simple, simple point, I'd guess. You've proven yourself a coward just by raising the spectre. If you can't take the heat, by all means, get me out of your kitchen and then delete the fact that I was ever here to cover up your ineptitude. Please show everyone, especially Jay Tea, who has much, much higher standards for logic, writing, humor, and banning that you're totally undeserving of any respect whatsoever by carring through with your little threat.

And I admit that last paragraph is a blatant ad homenim. That's the kind of crap you should consider banning people for. When they bring up points you foolishly didn't consider, you just make yourself look stupid. Oops, too late to put that genie back in the bottle.

JSchuler,"However,... (Below threshold)
jYt:

JSchuler,

"However, I would agree with you that RU-486 is an unequivocal good assuming there were no moral issues in regards to abortion."

Excellent. Thank you. We are agreed. I better post this fast, I may not get another :-)

Need I remind you AGAIN,... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Need I remind you AGAIN, your words, not mine were "It is imposible to consider the cost vs benift without mentioning abortion."

sigh... Please google 'use mention distinction' and get back to me. You can MENTION abortion but not be speaking ABOUT abortion... see I just did it again.

Talk about looking stupid.

So, I guess banning is off ... (Below threshold)
jYt:

So, I guess banning is off the table again :-)

I'm glad to see you've calmed down and don't have to get so huffy when you think I've strayed from the holy grail of the ultimate topic as defined by you.

I understand that you're still unwilling to take up this topic and bizarely want to change the subject to "use-mention distinctions" because the word "abortion" is meaningful here somehow while the actual relationship between RU-486 and the medical procedure abortion is not.
However, the simple fact is that RU-486 is often a replacement for abortion. Perhaps you can now sensibly agree with us as well that "RU-486 is an unequivocal good assuming there were no moral issues in regards to abortion."
If so, I'm done on this thread, which I'm sure will make you happy.

Though, since you brought up "use-mention distinction", here's a good example from Wikipedia:

For example, the sentence
"Cheese is derived from milk."
is a statement about the substance cheese, and involves the use of the word cheese, while the sentence

"'Cheese' is derived from a word in Old English."
is a statement about the word cheese, and involves the mention of the word cheese.

Seo, when you used 'abortion' before, 'mentioning' it, I assume that you were talking about the derivation of the word or somesuch. Surely not the medical procedure.

Yes that makes much more sense. How stupid you have shown me to be, Paul :-0 Next time, please know a little bit more about the new topic you're adding to the mix before asking me to Google it.

I wrote:The issu... (Below threshold)
I wrote: The issue in Malkin's original post was the danger of RU-486 to the women who take it, not the effects on the fetuses. ... By shifting the focus to the intended purpose of RU-486 and to abortion in general you have employed, knowingly IMO, a red herring.
Paul responds: No No No No... Nonsense.

You can do the same cost vs benifit for the automobile or any other product. You want to do a cost vs benifit by only looking at that fact that (by your metric) the cost is cheap. That's silly.

Clearly you aren't getting the point, as usual. You aren't comparing apples to apples when you shift to abortion vs. the safety of the drug in question. The penicillin vs. RU-486 may not be a perfect analogy either I agree, but it is far closer than apples or cars.

Anyhow Paul you have fun in comments here with your lickspittle sycophants.

So, I guess banning is o... (Below threshold)
Paul:

So, I guess banning is off the table again :-)

Who said it that? I did not say you were banned. I said I would if you tried to bait people into a debate over abortion.

I'm glad to see you've calmed down and don't have to get so huffy when you think I've strayed from the holy grail of the ultimate topic as defined by you.

You still don't get it do you. Go read Mantis. He strayed off topic AND he disagreed with me. Did I threaten him? No, I engaged him.

Why??? He was not being an idiot. (this time ;-)

Guess that distinction is lost on you eh?

Paul: I believe that was... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Paul: I believe that was the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed by Congress and would meet mantis's requirement that moral decisions be made only by those directly accountable to the voters. Of course, I could be wrong.

JS.. I'm 99% sure you're off on this one... I picked that specific example because new rules came down and we had to add another handicapped space. Since the rule change postdated the ADA passage it could not have been in the original bill...

Having said that, it might have been in the fine print of any of the bazillion bills they do pass every day.

But if you don't like that example I can pick from a few million more. Fed agencies make "rules" every day that have the weight of law. Ever seen the tax code?

"So, I guess Viagra should ... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

"So, I guess Viagra should be looooooong gone then, since it saves 0 lives and has a significantly higher mortality rate."

For starters, I'd like to know where you got you mortality data on Viagra... from a class action law firm? If Viagra truely exhibited the kind of safety profile you assign to it, the FDA would yank it in a heartbeat. Questions have been raised about the cardiac profile of the drug, but follow-up studies have failed to show statistically significant differences in heart attack rates and deaths between Viagra and control groups. I can assure you that if such a difference can be scientifically shown, Viagra will be toast.

The FDA almost pulled the plug on a variety of NSAIDs (Bextra, Vioxx, Celebrex) this year over the same issue. Bextra was pulled, but due to a side issue over a rare serious skin reaction instead of heart risks. While the FDA did note that there was a likelihood that long term use of the NSAIDs might have slightly increased cardiac risks, the overwhelming benefits of the drugs for arthritic suffers over other treatments didn't warrant removal from the market. Instead, the FDA ordered "Black Box" warnings on the drugs and strengthened the contra-indications.

Perhaps the RU-486 data will point to a causual relationship between the drug and the patients' deaths... perhaps they may have another explaination. But to assume take an apparent position that lots of drugs cause deaths and that doesn't necessarily mean much to the FDA can only be held by someone who doesn't have their livelihood in the palm of the FDA's hands. If a drug can be shown to cause deaths in patients, there better well be a damn good reason in the eyes of the people at the FDA.... and that's the "real world" bottom line.

goodbye jYt... (Below threshold)
Paul:

goodbye jYt

You are on the bench for <a... (Below threshold)
Paul:

You are on the bench for 30 bucks or 3 days... Your pick.

Paul: I'll bow to your expe... (Below threshold)
JSchuler:

Paul: I'll bow to your experience with handi-capable parking. It was a nitpick and nothing more as I wasn't disagreeing with your point about executive agencies.

After doing some cursory research I need to amend my statement about Ru-486. It seems there is some disagreement about the mortality rate of abortion procedures. However, from what I can find I think somewhere between .8 and 3 per 100,000 is a reasonable conclusion. Naturally, if this is on the low end, that would make RU-486 more dangerous than the surgical procedure (at least with the available data).

The irony is, if you go with the numbers put forward by the pro-abortion movement, RU-486 is a health risk. Yet, if you go with the anti-abortion numbers, RU-486 comes out looking pretty good, especially if you go with the radical assertion that the mortality rate is worse than live birth.

Hmmmm.1. @ Howard<... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

1. @ Howard

"I am not a big fan of abortion. But when you say RU486 doesn't save lives you are forgetting the statistics on mother mortality during birth. They are about 1 in 10,000 for natural birth and several times higher for c-sections."

Really? One dead mother per 10,000 natural births? Could you provide a link to a reputable medical journal that supports this?

2. @ Paul

"But if you don't like that example I can pick from a few million more. Fed agencies make "rules" every day that have the weight of law. Ever seen the tax code?"

*shrug* As far as I know you're correct. What Congress does is pass laws giving specific agencies the authority to make rules on specific subjects and sets the boundries for those rules. But within the boundries, those agencies have a great deal of authority.

A prime example is the management of federal land by the Dept. of the Interior. Congress doesn't specify which tree gets cut down, it leaves that to the Dept. of Interior. What Congress does is pass a law allowing the Dept of Interior to specify which trees can be cut down within the boundries set by Congress.

3. Steve

"The penicillin vs. RU-486 may not be a perfect analogy either I agree, but it is far closer than apples or cars."

Frankly I don't see what the confusion is all about. Paul's entire point is that you compared penicillin vs Ru-846. Which is a completely absurd comnparison. The absurdity of the comparison is simply that there is no other alternative to penicillin, or it's cousins, while there are many alternatives to RU-486. If you get a penicillin shot, it's because you would otherwise get much sicker or die without it. I.e. it is an essential medicine for keeping people alive. RU-486 on the other hand is a drug of convenience.

This is what Paul was pointing out, which evidently passed over many heads.

As for the Alar/apples comparison what Paul was attempting to do was show that 1/92,000 fatality rate might be acceptable if the number of people dead is low, such as 10. But if the general use of the pill increases to encompass many more people, i.e. the 200 million apples schtick, then the total mortality will increase dramatically in which case the continued use of the pill will probably be reviewed.

4. @ jyt

A prime example of someone debating a version of events that is clearly not synchronized with reality.

...

I think Paul had written his point very clearly, and was continually mis-read by people with a specific point to make that wasn't supportable unless Paul's words were twisted.

Frankly stuff like this makes me want to avoid writing my own blog.

JSchuler, part of the reas... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

JSchuler, part of the reason for that disconnect is the lack of reporting requirements and regulations surrounding the abortion industry. Courts in the past viewed such legal entanglements as likely attempts at "end runs" around RvW. I remember a "60 minutes" report about a bogus doctor running an abortion clinic a number of years ago in Virginia not too far from DC. The "doctor" ended up killing a patient and permanently harming several other women before authorities got wind of the situatuon and arrested the man. They cited the lack of licensing and regulations as the main reason why it was so easy for the clinic to operate. Needless to say, when NOW was interviewed for the story they were dead set against any additional regulatory oversight that might have required the "clinic" to be inspected and licensed... or anything like it.

So basically, abortion stats are a SWAG based on whose numbers you trust.

Hey folks, a little bit of ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Hey folks, a little bit of definitions for the rhetoric here:

Abortion means ending a pregnacy before term. It can be a surgical procedure (evacuation and dilletage, etc) or a medical procedure (morning after pill, RU, even methotrexate, often used to abort ectopic pregnancies). So RU is NOT a replacement for abortion. Using RU is performing an abortion.

Way back at the top there someone quoted mortality stats for labor and delivery. Pregnancy itself has a certain mortality rate as well, not really mentioned.

Many pregnancies don't finish to term without human intervention.

So if you are really going to do a "risk/benefit" analysis for the use of RU, you need to compute:

Risk of adverse outcome to fetus with RU = 100%
Risk of adverse outcome to fetus without RU or other abortion = x
Risk of adverse outcome to mother with RU = y
Risk of adverse outcome to mother without RU or other abortion = z
and maybe throw in other abortion methods risks.

For me, however, unless there's a substantial medical risk to the mother to remain pregnant, I don't compute a significant benefit to RU outweighing the risks to all involved (mother and fetus).

For those that don't believe in including the fetus in the calculations, how come so many of you were so quick to jump on the Alar bandwagon? Or am I comparing Apples to Oranges?

>Or am I comparing Apples t... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>Or am I comparing Apples to Oranges?

No epador but you're talking waaay too much about abortion... GRANTED you are not being an idiot but I just benched a guy for similar behavior so I gotta crack the whip on you.

In a perfect world we could discuss such things but alas the idiots must also be given their due.

So for now, let's just skip it.

"If RU486 is safer than ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

"If RU486 is safer than having an abortion and is used instead of having an abortion by a person that would have otherwise had an abortion...." -- Posted by: jYt



An "abortion" is the eradication before maturation and birth of a human embryo. Whether they are "aborted" by manual activity or by chemical inducement, it still represents an abortion of a human embryo, an action that prevents a living, human being from being born, arrests their life by intentional intervention by someone else.

I realize it's tidier and sometimes more antiseptic to take a pill and call "it" "tissue" or whatever people do...BUT, the truly ugly and wretched facts are that aborting a human embryo from the womb of a human female is an act of murder: the taking of another human being's life (and an utterly defenseless human being at that while still in the womb, not like they can strike back or shoot anyone who attempts to take their life, and because of that, does take their life) with intention is an act of murder.

It's even more wretched that some consider it just awful that stating the facts about acts of murder are worthy of being "banned" while murdering human beings is tidy pharmaceutical considerations.

Someone always has that aghast response when you state the obvious, and do not refrain from the truth. Twenty cats in a house, but demanding abortions and "protecting the rights" to abort human beings is still crazy behavior and even Ms. Roe today perseveres in campaigning to get the truth out about that (well, not about cats but certainly about abortion being an act of murder, which she does not condone, promote nor support).

"No war, but abortions on demand" makes no sense. Perhaps it's the act of defenselessness of humans in utero that makes it "alright" to kill for those who do...dunno.

About the pharmaceutical differences, and deaths associated with them, how many human embryos has RU47 killed? Not like it's easily measurable, is the obvious answer here, certainly not something that's going to be as well or even at all recorded as is those resulting from allergies to amoxycillan.

Rather, RU-486.... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Rather, RU-486.

"Benefits to society" is an... (Below threshold)
-S-:

"Benefits to society" is an issue depending upon who is evaluating what is benefit and what is detriment. As in, if only the educated and certain general racial groups within those use birth control and some use RU-486/RU-47, it seems that what society accomplishes is a short term gain ("convenience" for some, preservation/conservation of some available resources that would be compromised with increased population), while also delivering long-term detriments by limiting reproduction numbers among the educated and among those races and/or classes of persons using abortion on demand by whatever means (but the discussion here is the RU approach).

My lone opinion is that certainly antibiotics and most especially penicillan/amoxycillan has delivered by far the most benefit and continues to. The detrimental effects brought about by abortion are beginning to be very evident to even untrained perspectives, with an explosion in some human populations and limiting reproduction in others. The limitations are most certainly due to abortion and birth control, obviously not from dwindling belief in Judeo-Christian morality.

Seems pretty obvious that God's not marked when human populations select out that which is most fit and often more capable for the least desirable conditions and characteristics. And, thus, you get larger numbers of needier, less fit humans ("fit" as in "fitness," a "fitness" level in biological nomenclature and terms, not in a moral sense) requiring greater resources from the more fit, and requiring the more fit to actually care for and nurture the larger population of less fit and what you accomplish is, over time, a huge decrease in population fitness. Which is about what's taken place already in humans and is certainly looming on our horizon as we can even today notice that we're running out of resources to care for all those less fit, less able individuals.

A lot of people would benefit from studying ecology and genetics but even those now ring to some as "bad" areas. Sadly, that very fearful response is exactly what I'm talking about: an increase in those who represent the loss of fitness with disdain for what will deliver greater fitness: awareness and information.

How this suggests banning on Wizbang...well, the very strife in that thread bare concept suggests to me a loss of fitness, represents a weak position.

Paul, in all due respect, l... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Paul, in all due respect, logically I find it not possible to discuss the one drug (whose chemical function is to abort a human fetus) without discussing the issue of abortion.

Yes, not from a moral perspective, but the functional result and harms rendered from the results is necessary to discuss the issue that Malkin (and you) actually make as to which is beneficial and which isn't.

Because the "benefits" of the two medications are inherent in their intended results. That some people throw up or get a rash or some, worse, lose their very lives from both/either medications is terrible, yes, but it's only part of the "harms" (detriments) issues for both/either medications.

It's also very likely that one can't be taken without the other, at least available. Meaning, they're somewhat symbiotic medications.

The death rate for women du... (Below threshold)
llamas:

The death rate for women due to causes directly related to pregnancy and birth, in the US, is approximately 20 per 100,000 live births, or one per 5,000 live births.

Don't take my word for it - Google it, it's easy to find.

So it does not seem like too much of a stretch to say that the apparent risk of dying from using RU-486 (one death per 92,000 uses) is considerably lower than the risk of carrying a pregnancy to term.

Note that the risks of pregnancy cited are related to full-term pregnancies, which give an overall risk figure for the whole continuum of pregnancy. There may also be other risk factors in pregaancy which are not included because the pregnancy did not proceed to term.

llater,

llamas

The problem with the RU-486... (Below threshold)
paula:

The problem with the RU-486 pill is not simply the small number of women who have died from it. The scary thing is that the normal side effects, crampping and bleeding, are also the same symptom of the deadly infection.

If the warning signs of deadly problems are the same as the standard side effects of the drug how is a woman to know when she needs immedate medical attention?

I don't understand how "pro-choice" people can support this sort of thing.

Hmmmm."Don't take ... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

"Don't take my word for it - Google it, it's easy to find."

I'm lazy. :) Please provide a link to the reputable medical journal or US government website that provides that information.

I'll start you along the wa... (Below threshold)
llamas:

I'll start you along the way but I'm not your handy-dandy reference librarian.

Here's the CDC, showing the US maternal mortality rate at 12 per 100,000 live births, or one maternal death per 8300 live births.

http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/fs030220.htm

Note that this figure is 'per live births'. I mis-typed above - I should have said 'about 20 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies', not 'per 100,000 live births'. My bad. You'll also note, if you care to Google further, that many researchers provide compelling evidence that the CDC reporting criteria for maternal leads to significant under-reporting.

Whatever the case, it seems pretty clear that the chance of dying from being/remaining pregnant is far higher - at least 10 times higher - than the chance of dying from the use of RU-486.

llater,

llamas

WEll yes... but no... If yo... (Below threshold)
Paul:

WEll yes... but no... If you're taking RU486 it is pretty clear that you are pregnant and therefor your risk of pregnancy is now the baseline.

To prove the point you are trying to prove you would need to have data from WHEN people took 486 and WHEN people died in pregnancy... (or aanother good way would be to argue how many women die during childbirth)

RU doesn't make it so you were never pregnant.

(and again I'm talking about the strength of the arguments not the Pill itself.)

Your pregnancy risk is already established.

(once again... I'm not arguing for or against the pill... If you notice, I'm BOTH knocking your argument AND giving you suggestions on how to strengthen it. )

Take another swing at it...

If you wish do a risk/benef... (Below threshold)

If you wish do a risk/benefit analysis on RU-486, I propose you do the reasearch to compare it to the following, based upon the fact that the "benefit" of the drug is not having a baby through something a woman can do at home on her own.

1. Not having sex
2. Oral contraception
3. "Morning after" pills

If you wish to broaden things a little, you could include Injectable/Implantable contraceptives, but to include abortion as a comparison wouldn't be accurate, because the goal is significantly changed.

And the only way that "pregnancy and childbirth" should enter into the equation is in context of looking at RU-486 as a "remedy" for that condition/circumstance, to draw a disease/cure parallel with other drugs.

What we're talking about is something that allows a woman to "fix" her unwanted pregnancy when she was unwilling to do anything to prevent said pregnancy. As far as I know, there aren't any comparable drugs for that. The closest thing is a "morning after" regimen that a woman would only have to worry about within a day or two of having (unprotected) sex.

Now, even completely disregarding the obvious moral issues involved, I have a very hard time seeing a need for RU-486. There are other ways that have been proven safe over decades of of study for a woman to avoid pregnancy. There are legal means currently available for a woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I don't see that any risk would be "acceptable" on a drug that's not needed. Even with the concession that the condition of pregnancy is what's being "treated" by this drug, doesn't it make better sense to take a "vaccine" (contraceptives) against a disease instead of taking a "remedy" (RU-486)?

S wrote:Paul, i... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

S wrote:

Paul, in all due respect, logically I find it not possible to discuss the one drug (whose chemical function is to abort a human fetus) without discussing the issue of abortion.

I agree with that. A discussion of the benefits/costs of RU-486 has to include the issue of abortion. Amoxicillin isnt really comparable because there isnt some massive ethical debate surrounded by its use. RU486 is completely linked with the issue of abortion, and a discussion about banning it can be expected to lead to the discussion of abortion. You cant really get into the costs/benefits of RU486 to society without getting into the ethical and social aspects.

So I think its a little unfair to be banning people for bringing up the larger issue of abortion, when the post is about the possible dangers of RU486.

Basically Paul is contending that RU486 should be banned based on the fact that 1 out of 92,000 people die from the use of the product. That is only taking part of the larger issue into consideration, and I would think that other aspects would have to be considered and discussed (including the issue of abortion overall) for a somewhat useful understanding to be achieved.

So I do agree with Paul that the comparison to Amoxicillin isnt really viable, since the two drugs arent really dealing with that same kind of situation. RU486 is all about the whole "lesser of two evils" situation. Maybe a better comparison would be to something like Prozac, where people have all kinds of negative reactions and side effects, but are sometimes "cured" of depression symptoms. Another comparison, possibly more relevant, is RU486 with the actual procedure of abortion. Someone already brought that up earlier. Since abortion is legal, thats another way that the discussion could be expected to go.

Comparing RU486 to penicillin is about as useful as comparing it to apples. The consumption of apples by Americans is in no way comparable to the use of RU486, which is employed by a much more select segment of society. Apples are eaten by just about everyone, of every age, and the same cannot be said about RU486 (at least I hope not). Along with that, there are really no ethical/moral issues surrounding the consumption of apples. People dont get into heated debates over whether or not Granny Smiths should be legal or not.

Even with the concession... (Below threshold)
Ryan A:

Even with the concession that the condition of pregnancy is what's being "treated" by this drug, doesn't it make better sense to take a "vaccine" (contraceptives) against a disease instead of taking a "remedy" (RU-486)?

Yes.

If you wish to broaden things a little, you could include Injectable/Implantable contraceptives, but to include abortion as a comparison wouldn't be accurate, because the goal is significantly changed.

In my understanding, 486 is used once pregnancy occurs, and could therefor be considered an alternative to abortion...so the comparison between the two seems pretty relevant to me. Talking about safe sex/contraceptives etc. is also relevant, but is talking about dealing with things at a much earlier stage (prevention). 486 and abortions are employed when things have aready gone too far...they are late stage attempts at fixing so called problems or mistakes.

I thought evryone was suppo... (Below threshold)
moseby:

I thought evryone was supposed to be using condoms to AVOID pregancy and...oh yeah...DISEASE. Seems to me that if everyone starts relying on RU-486 so they can ride "bareback" you'll start to see a rise in STD's and possibly more deaths....

Just another wrinkle to factor in.....

I'd just like to point out ... (Below threshold)

I'd just like to point out a logic error in the original post, as well as a point about government regulations.

The error in the original post is here: "If one out of 92,000 apples killed the person who ate it, that would be 195,652 dead people per year or 536 people PER DAY. ... The point is obvious. Killing one 1 of 92,000 users of your product is nothing to be proud of."

My family of six eats about 30-40 apples per week. The consumption of RU-486 is, I assume, considerably smaller than that. So using the number of apples as the base for the statistic, rather than the number of people who die from eating apples, invalidates the comparison utterly, in the exact same way that Paul accuses Steve of invalidating the comparison earlier. Keeping in mind that 100,000 out of 100,000 people will eventually die from some cause, though obviously not all in one year, it would not surprise me to find that indeed apples kill 1 in 92,000 people.

On government regulation, yes, Congress should absolutely pass every law. Any regulation made by an executive agency should be subject to Congressional debate and vote before taking effect. That is the reason that Congress exists: to pass the laws that effect us. And by doing so, those laws can be appealed; they can be repealed or modified; they can be used as a reason to campaign for or against an actual person capable of changing or keeping the law as is.

By abdicating responsibility to unelected bureaucrats, Congress skips the difficult questions and can deny responsibility, while the bureaucrats of course are subject to no voter retribution at all. Instead, the executive's power should be limited to policy-making on the enforcement of law. It is reasonable for the executive to state that factories releasing less than 1 part per 100,000,000 of some chemical will not be prosecuted on environmental grounds for that release, but not reasonable for the executive to mandate that a factory must not release more than 1 part per 100,000,000 of that chemical. That is Congress's job. If they cannot do it, they can hire staff to keep up with the details. If that's still too much, then there are too many laws and Congress should not be regulating all the areas they are, and to the extent they are.

The current system of having unaccountable bureaucrats and unaccountable Congressmen is nothing less than an end-run around the concepts of limited government, separation of powers and accountability to the electorate.

Hmmm."I'll start y... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

"I'll start you along the way but I'm not your handy-dandy reference librarian."

Hey. It worked right? :)

What I find curious is if you look at the document linked you'll see:

"Women aged 40 and older had nearly four times the risk of dying from a pregnancy-related cause as women aged 30-34 years and had twice the risk for women aged 35-39 years."

While another document, that covers 1987-1990 vs the 1991 - 1999 liked to above, the mortality rate is actually lower: link

"RESULTS: During 1987-1990, 1,459 deaths were determined to be pregnancy-related. The overall pregnancy-related mortality ratio was 9.2 deaths per 100,000 live births."

So from 1987 - 1990: 9.2 per 100,000

From 1991 - 1999: 12 per 100,000

Is it from live births or the aging of expectant mothers? I.e. 40 years ago women had their kids in their late teens or early twenties. But since that time women have put off having children until later and later in life until now when there are women in their 50's, and some in their 60's, having children. Since older women having children are at a higher risk from pregnancy, is the resultant increase in fatalities from the pregnancy and birth, or from being so much older when attempting it?

The increasing age of expectant mothers needs to be factored in I think.

Paul, did your whip break a... (Below threshold)
epador:

Paul, did your whip break after virtually flagellating me?

;-)




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