Pam Belluck, who has been writing about reproductive health for over a decade, reported this article from Paris.
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“When the idea struck him, nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Étienne-Émile Baulieu believed it could be revolutionary. Creating a pill that could abort a pregnancy would transform reproductive health care, he thought, allowing women to avoid surgery, act earlier and carry out their decisions in private.
“When science meets women’s cause, it is irresistible,” Dr. Baulieu, 96, a French endocrinologist and biochemist often called the father of the abortion pill, said on a recent Sunday afternoon in his apartment in a century-old building a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.
He had also hoped, as he wrote in a 1990 book, that by the 21st century, “paradoxically, the ‘abortion pill’ might even help eliminate abortion as an issue.”
That prospect seems as distant as ever, especially in the United States. Not only has abortion remained fiercely contentious since the pill Dr. Baulieu spearheaded, mifepristone, was approved in America in 2000, but last year’s Supreme Court decision ending the federal right to abortion has divided the country over the issue as never before.
Yet over time, some of Dr. Baulieu’s other expectations have materialized. Today, medication abortion, in which mifepristone and a second drug are taken early in pregnancy, is used in over half of pregnancy terminations in the United States. That proportion is expected to increase, even in states that have banned abortion, where growing use has put the pills at the center of legal and political battles.
For Dr. Baulieu, who continues work in his lab on the southern rim of Paris, his office overlooking a former asylum where the Marquis de Sade was held, the volatile developments are just the latest turns in an eventful life. He transported guns as a teenager in the French Resistance during World War II, changing his name and taking refuge high in the Alps. He joined the Communist Party and then quit it in 1956 after the Soviet invasion of Hungary. And he socialized with the artists Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns in the 1960s, beginning a pattern of friendships with painters, sculptors, musicians and actors that he said had helped inspire his scientific work.”