RU 486

  Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the abortion drug RU-486. It acted despite the grave risks this drug poses to the health of American women. But in disregarding these risks, the Clinton administration inadvertently planted the seeds of their own policy’s demise. The decision to approve the drug shouldn’t have come as a great surprise. It’s only the latest in a series of fortunate coincidences for Vice President Gore. A few weeks ago, his pledge to get tough on media violence was "miraculously" followed a few days later by a government report criticizing Hollywood for marketing violent media to children. In the same way, Gore, just a few days ago, told an MTV audience that he would do everything possible to make RU-486 legal. Lo and behold! Two days later, the FDA announces its approval. Talk about politics! Well, if the decision didn’t come as a surprise, the FDA’s disregard for the health and safety of American women is nonetheless shocking. As the FDA euphemistically noted, four of the 2000 women who used the drug during trials the FDA conducted bled enough to require a transfusion. In other words, they hemorrhaged. The FDA indirectly acknowledged the risks when it required that doctors prescribing the drug be qualified to perform emergency surgery. Why stop there? Isn’t the cast of "ER" available? Let’s be clear about this. Women, tragically, are going to get hurt -- and hurt badly. And their blood, literally, will be on this administration’s hands. While there isn’t any way to dissuade this administration from extending the culture of abortion, that doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing for RU-486. On the contrary, the FDA’s rush to approve the drug, despite the risks, means the fate of RU-486 will likely end up in the hands of trial lawyers -- a group that’s even harder to shake than committed pro-lifers. Ironically, two legal trends that I have decried may end up furthering the pro-life cause. The first is the rise of what are known as "contingency fees." Instead of being paid a flat fee, or retainer, lawyers put up the expenses associated with the lawsuit in exchange for one-third of the damage award plus expenses. As critics have argued, contingency fees encourage lawyers to file lawsuits even when the chances of recovery are slight. The reward is so great that it’s worth taking a chance. The second trend is the way juries have stopped holding plaintiffs accountable when they knew the risks and proceeded anyway. For example, a Miami jury recently awarded 140 billion dollars to sick ex- smokers despite 35 years of warnings about the hazards of smoking. It’s hard to imagine trial lawyers not placing the distributors of RU-486 and the doctors who prescribe it right smack in their sights. And, all you need is a few multi-million dollar judgments. Insurance companies will then stop underwriting anyone who has anything to do with the drug. This will pull the plug on RU-486. This isn’t the way things are supposed to happen in a democracy. We shouldn’t have to rely on trial lawyers to save us from unsafe products. But then again, government shouldn’t play politics with the health and safety of American women. But since it has done so, in this case, it’s one instance when I will be rooting for the trial lawyers.


Chuck Colson



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