Etienne Emile Baulieu
- Category : Scientist
- Type : GP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Rulership 4
French scientist, physician and medical researcher who has impacted his time in history by developing the abortion pill RU-486 in addition to an anti-aging pill from a human hormone, DeHydroEpiAndrosterone, more commonly known as DHEA. Author of "The Abortion Pill," 1990, he was awarded a Commander of the French Legion of Honor and a Chevalier of the French National Order of Merit, Baulieu is a biochemist who describes himself as "a medical doctor who practices science."
Baulieu was the oldest of three children born to Jewish physician Leon Blum, a pioneer in independent medical research in the treatment of diabetes who became one of the first doctors to conduct clinical trials in insulin. His mother, Therese Lion, was a conservatory-trained classical pianist who held advanced degrees in English and law. Prior to her marriage to Blum, Lion was an activist in the fight for women's suffrage in England.
Baulieu spent his early years in Strasbourg until after his father's untimely death in 1930 when mother Therese moved with her four-year-old son and two daughters to Paris. After the Germans invaded France in World War II, the Blum family fled Paris to live in Grenoble, an area which was not occupied by the Germans, where Baulieu resumed his studies at the Lycee Champollion. He became active in a Communist-controlled group and when the Gestapo began to close in, the family moved again to Annency in Haute-Savoie. In 1942, an attempt by Baulieu to deflect German attention from himself and his family and to hide the fact that his father was Jewish, Baulieu acquired false identification papers on which his surname appeared as Baulieu, a name he chose himself and the name he has used ever since.
Returning to Paris when the war ended in 1945, Baulieu formally began his study of medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, October 1944, registering under his pseudonym. As Strasbourg was still occupied, he could not use his true name. After earning his medical degree and a doctorate in science, Baulieu spent the next four years (1951-1955) as an intern in Paris hospitals, where his indelibly imprinted memories of that period were of the women who incurred massive infections or who injured themselves internally after their attempts at self-induced abortions. Most of these women underwent uterine scrapings that many physicians performed on them without administering anesthesia because, as Baulieu learned, traditional doctors thought that such women deserved to be punished. "Teach her a lesson and she will remember."
A Professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris, in the mid '60s, Baulieu became a member of the World Health Organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. "At the Geneva meetings I was steeped in reports citing the desperation over the lack of contraceptive in poor countries... I dreamed of developing new methods with original research in my own laboratory." A trip to India in 1970, where he witnessed unspeakable suffering that stemmed from uncontrolled fertility, reinforced his determination.
As the medial scientist employed at French pharmaceutical company Roussel-Uclaf, Baulieu, who conducted the first clinical test of RU-486, discovered that the compound was 80% effective in ending early pregnancies. By 1985 Claude Evin, France's Minister of Health, approved the sale of RU-486 in France. One month later, it was withdrawn from the market due to the public condemnation of the pill by Roman Catholic Archbishop of Paris, protests of anti-abortionists, who called RU-486 a "chemical weapon," threats of boycotts to Rousell Uclaf and of personal violence to company officers. Two days later, the decision was overruled by Evin. "I could not permit the abortion debate to deprive women of a product that represents medical progress," he said, "From the moment government approval for the drug was granted, RU-486 became the moral property of women, not just the property of the drug company."
Baulieu is a tireless campaigner for universal approval and distribution for RU-486. "I have always thought that women should be in control of reproduction, and I don't think that scientists and physicians can be anything but pro-choice."
Baulieu made one marriage to Yolande Compagnon 10/04/1947 and had three children, Catherine, Laurent and Frederique. The couple make their home near Paris.
In the United States, President Bush banned RU-486 in 1989 but the Clinton administration worked to bring the pill into American use. The French manufacturer Roussel-Uclaf gave the U.S. rights to nonprofit trials in 1993. After three years testing, the FDA declared the pill an effective and safe means for early abortions. (After the first two months of pregnancy, the uterus is manufacturing progesterone and RU-486 loses its efficacy.)
On 9/28/2000, FDA gave its final approval for the U.S. use of RU-486, allowing women their fundamental right of choice.