The drug commonly called RU-486 is used for chemically induced abortions. In the late 1990s, the U.S. House of Representatives passed bills that denied funding to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the testing, development, or approval of any drug for chemical inducement of abortion. These measures were blocked in conference committee with the Senate.

On September 28, 2000, the FDA approved a regimen for using RU-486 to cause abortions within 49 days since the last menstrual period. RU-486 may be used in combination with the prostaglandin misoprostol. These drugs disrupt the uterine lining and cause the unborn child's expulsion from the mother's womb.

Subsequently, bills were introduced in Congress specifying physician qualifications to prescribe RU-486. The Bush Administration applied the Hyde funding restriction to RU-486. Amid ongoing concerns about safety of the drug for women using it, reports have surfaced about serious side-effects and even death. In 2003, a bill was introduced to suspend the approval of RU-486 while the Comptroller General reviews the special process under which the drug was approved.