Steamboat Springs RU-486, the abortion pill that was approved for distribution by the federal government last week, won't be offered in Steamboat for a while, even though distribution in other parts of the United States could start in a month.
As of now, no clinics in Steamboat have the pill, said Amy Dickson, director of the Steamboat Springs Planned Parenthood office. And she doesn't know any that are getting it.
"It will be a while before it will be provided," Dickson said.
Once distribution begins, clinics that want to provide RU-486 will have to train someone to give the pill. That training could take time.
Abortions are not performed at the Planned Parenthood office in Steamboat Springs, Dickson said. Rather, the office provides pregnant women with information about their options. The office also provides basic health care services such as blood work, disease screening, treatment and education, Dickson said.
Other Planned Parenthood clinics in Colorado that do conduct abortions will offer RU-486 as soon as possible, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Ellen Brilliant said. And, Brilliant added, the agency eventually wants to provide RU-486 in every Planned Parenthood office in the state.
"Our intent is to provide RU-486 as widely as Planned Parenthood can," Brilliant said.
She also predicted that private doctors that don't do surgical abortions may offer the pill because it is more confidential, making the offices harder for pro-life advocates to target and picket.
There is one clinic in Steamboat that performs abortions, but Dickson, who wouldn't identify the clinic, said representatives of the clinic didn't want to comment on the RU-486 issue.
Abortion opponents have claimed the pill has the potential to be abused because of its ease of use, compared to a surgical abortion.
However, Dickson said RU-486 isn't a quick way out of a pregnancy and side effects are comparable to surgical abortions.
"It's still a painful procedure," she said.
The initial dose can cause some nausea, headache, weakness, diarrhea and fatigue. Furthermore, bleeding can last up to nine days after the abortion.
Also, it's going to be very expensive to get, Dickson added.
"This provides an option for women, and that's what people should be focused on," she said.
That's certainly not what everyone is focusing on.
Pastor David Drew of the Steamboat Christian Center said RU-486 is just another "add-on" issue in the abortion controversy, similar to allowing partial-birth abortions.
"The way we view it, it's an abortion and it's definitely something that we're against," he said. "This is something going towards our own choice and not going along with what God's words say."
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