Sunday, November 27, 2005


As you may know, four women have recently died in California after taking Mifeprex or RU-486, the "abortion pill." This is by no means evidence that the drug is unsafe; as The New York Times notes,

The risks of death from infection after using the pill are similar to the risks after surgical abortion or childbirth, said Dr. Steven Galson, director of the F.D.A.'s center for drugs.

No deaths after use of RU-486 have been reported in Europe (a somewhat different drug regimen is generally used there). Nevertheless, there are now calls for a ban on the drug in this country.

And it appears that the anti-abortion community is taking advantage and chasing ambulances:

Problems After RU-486?
Call Attorney and Sue!

If you or someone you know has suffered physical injury or emotional harm from the use of the drug Mifeprex or Mifepristone, also known as the "abortion pill" RU-486, or, the labor inducing drug Misoprostol also know as Cytotec, you may obtain emotional counseling, medical attention and/or legal assistance....

Three numbers are listed in the ad at the link.

The third is a number for Life Dynamics, Inc.

Life Dynamics and its leader, Mark Crutcher, are quite influential. A couple of years ago they began a campaign to try to make the case that abortion clinics cover up pedophilia: LDI phone callers posed as underage girls in the hope that clinic workers would say something on the phone that violated the law. LDI has publicized tapes it says reveal such violations.

And, lo and behold, some law-enforcement authorities began focusing on just this issue shortly after Crutcher and LDI released the tapes:

An anti-abortion crusader in Texas says his organization provided the evidence that led to Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline's controversial investigation of two abortion clinics.

Life Dynamics president Mark Crutcher said he had callers pretending to be 13-year-old girls call abortion clinics across the country, including four clinic offices in Kansas. The group says its tapes from the telephone conversations prove the clinics are operating illegally.

...Court documents show the Kline-led investigation of the clinics began in October 2004, less than two months after the hiring fell through.

[Whitney] Watson, Kline's spokesman, said ... "There is no connection."...

In addition, the Indianapolis weekly Nuvo noted recently that

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter began an investigation of Planned Parenthood last month, echoing a similar investigation that begun last year by Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline.

These states are really choosing a swell guy to get information from:

Seeking to deter the next generation of physicians from providing abortions, in 1993, LDI distributed a threatening "joke" booklet to more than 33,000 medical students. The booklet recommended that physicians who perform abortions should be shot, attacked by dogs, and buried in concrete. One medical student, who received the booklet the same day that Florida abortion provider Dr. David Gunn was murdered, stated, "'It was very upsetting. . . . [T]he jokes all describe ob-gyns who perform abortions as people who should be killed.'"

In 1999, LDI sent another such booklet, entitled "Quack the Ripper," to dozens of physicians and medical students in Canada and the U.S. The booklet contained cartoons mocking abortion providers and "play[ing] on their safety concerns." The cover of the booklet stated, "[I]f you're a doctor, resident, or med student, someone's out to get you."


Oh, and there's this:

In the late 1990s the group claimed that Planned Parenthood trafficked in human body parts--a charge that sparked national media coverage and a congressional investigation.

The investigation fell apart when the key witness testified that he had lied about having witnessed trafficking in body parts and that Life Dynamics had paid him $21,000 for time and expenses as their spy.

And these folks are setting the agenda for at least two state attorneys general.

LDI's claims also got some play in at least two other states, but reason prevailed:

Judith Rossi, executive assistant states attorney in Connecticut, told that its investigation found no basis for bringing charges. "There was no child, there was no victim, there was no mandated reporter identified," she said. And in California, when the group Monrovians Against Planned Parenthood raised questions based on Life Dynamics' information, the office of the Los Angeles County chief medical officer Thomas Garthwaite responded that a routine inspection of Planned Parenthood of Pasadena "determined that the clinic was in compliance with the mandatory child abuse reporting requirements . . . [and] that the clinic's mandatory reporters were trained upon hire on the child abuse reporting requirements."

But if this harassment campaign doesn't pan out, there's always suing over RU-486.


UPDATE: In comments, Scorpio makes a good point -- There have been a hell of a lot of deaths among apparently healthy younger men who use Viagra, but I don't recall any indignation about that from the fundies.

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