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On October 21, 1993, Drs. Mitchell Creinin and Phillip Darney of the University of California at San Francisco publicized the results of their study of methotrexate as an abortifacient. The study, published in the journal Contraception, involved ten women, eight of whose pregnancies were successfully terminated. (Since the original study, more than fifty women have undergone the experimental procedure.)

The most significant aspect of the UCSF study, according to Nancy Tompkins, editor of the pro-choice newsletter Choosing Choice, is the fact that methotrexate is already on the market and FDA-approved for other purposes. Before its use as an abortifacient can be anything other than experimental, however, someone has to apply for a “supplemental indication” approval, which is generally easier to get than a new-drug approval.

Others are less optimistic than Tompkins. Thus far, no drug company has publicly requested a supplemental indication approval, and according to Wayne Koberstein, editor of Pharmaceutical Executive, “it is very unlikely that any large brand-name company will take this on.” Ironically, what may prevent methotrexate from becoming widely available for abortion is its low cost (four dollars per dose compared to two hundred dollars for RU 486). Because of this, methotrexate is unlikely to be a big profit-maker, and companies may be unwilling to risk the wrath of antiabortion groups by marketing it. Even if a company does take this chance, the drug’s approval is probably at least one or two years away.

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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