The Upjohn Company denies it has plans, but a salesman, believing otherwise, resigns.

Abortion, a generally safe procedure, is still one that must be performed in a hospital or doctor’s clinic. The drugs necessary for a reliable early abortion at home, however, are in advanced stages of testing. The side effects that have thus far kept them off the market are being eliminated.

The Upjohn Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is largely responsible for researching the drugs, called prostaglandins. The company denies it is researching a product for do-it-yourself abortions, but the direction of its work has become all too clear, at least to one of the company’s top salesmen, who recently resigned as a matter of conscience.

Prostaglandins, which are naturally occurring hormonelike bodily substances, cause contraction of the uterine wall, then menstruation, and, consequently, abortion. They were developed by Upjohn and have been used since the early 1970s to end second-trimester abortions. But because of the severe side effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and uterine pain, their use has been confined to hospitals.

It was his suspicion that Upjohn was sponsoring further research on prostaglandins for home use that caused pharmacist George Schimming, one of the company’s most productive salesmen, to resign in April. He left after he discovered that Upjohn was providing drugs and financial support for projects whose clearly stated goals included the refinement of an abortion-inducing drug for home use.

Prostaglandins have many uses, including treatment of ulcers, asthma, and cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension. Prostaglandins are used to dilate a woman’s cervix to make childbirth at term easier. They are also used ...

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