Sarah Ricks


In September 1988 a pharmaceutical firm announced it would begin marketing a pill in France designed to induce abortion in the very early stages of pregnancy. Several weeks later, the company retracted its original announcement. Motivated by vocal anti-abortion activism in France and the United States, which included threats of a boycott of all of the company's products as well as threats on the lives of company officials, the drug company decided to withhold the pill, known as RU 486, from the French market. However, within days of the French company's retraction, the French government-which owns thirty-six percent of the French subsidiary of the German-based company, Hoechst, that markets the pill-ordered the company to sell it in France. The French Health Minister declared that in the few weeks that the abortion pill's existence had become common knowledge, it had become "the moral property of women."'

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