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LIFE DIGEST: SBC’s Land seeks suspension of RU 486 sales; Ark. clinic offers free abortions for hurricane evacuees

WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist public policy specialist Richard Land and seven other pro-life leaders have called on Congress to act soon on legislation that would suspend sales of the abortion drug RU 486.

Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and his allies wrote Rep. Joe Barton, R.-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, urging him to hold a hearing on the RU 486 Suspension and Review Act, H.R. 1079, and to schedule a vote by the panel. The legislation would remove RU 486 from the market while a review is conducted of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug.

The pro-life leaders acted after it was acknowledged more women had died following use of RU 486 than had been previously reported.

Danco Laboratories in New York revealed in July that two California women had died, one in 2004 and the other in 2005, after using the two-step drug regimen to abort their unborn children. Danco, which markets the drug in the United States, had previously reported two other California users of RU 486 died in 2003 and a Canadian woman died after its use in 2001. Other reports have cited additional deaths by RU 486 users — three in Europe, one in the Philippines and another in the United States.

“[W]e believe that the growing body of evidence suggests that RU 486 is dangerous to the women who use it,” the Sept. 26 letter to Barton said. “The effects of RU 486 on women’s health have never been adequately assessed. H.R. 1079 is a logical response to the acknowledged role of this drug in the deaths of a number of women and to the mounting concern that this drug poses significant health risks to every woman who uses it.”

Joining Land on the letter were Tom Minnery, vice president of Focus on the Family; Beverly LaHaye, chairman of Concerned Women for America; Phyllis Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum; Paul Weyrich, national chairman of Coalitions for America; Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee;
Mariam Bell, public policy director for Prison Fellowship, and Connie Mackey, vice president of Family Research Council.

The bill is known as Holly’s Law in memory of Holly Patterson, 18, who died of a systemic infection in 2003 after obtaining RU 486 from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Hayward, Calif.

The House bill has 77 cosponsors, while a Senate version, S. 511, has only 11 cosponsors.

RU 486, or mifepristone, is used as the first part of a process normally occurring in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. That initial action causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child. A second drug, known as misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby.

FORCED EVACUATIONS — An Arkansas abortion doctor has offered free abortions for pregnant women who evacuated their homes because of Hurricane Katrina.

Jerry Edwards, medical director of Little Rock Family Planning Services, said he had performed six free abortions as of Sept. 27, the Associated Press reported. According to its website, the clinic’s regular charge for a first-trimester abortion is between $525 and $650. To qualify for an abortion at no charge, a woman must have an identification card showing she is a resident of one of nine parishes in Louisiana or of three counties in Mississippi.

“If we didn’t provide it now, they would get it later — a late-term abortion that would give greater risk to the mother’s health,” Edwards told Little Rock television station KTHV, according to AP.

Lanier Swann, Concerned Women for America’s director of government relations, said hurricane evacuees need “encouragement, not more devastation.”

“There has already been enough loss of life at the hands of Katrina and Rita, and the victims don’t deserve abortionists adding to the casualty list,” Swann said in a written statement. “Abortionists should be ashamed of this behavior at a time when Americans are working to bring hope to the hopeless. In the midst of heroic efforts throughout the hurricane-ravaged areas, the abortionists’ bizarre attempt at offering ‘aid’ stands as a distraction from the worthwhile good deeds performed each and every day in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and beyond.”

HE WOULD TERMINATE — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is no pro-lifer, but he has threatened the death penalty for anyone who would take one of his teenage daughters for an abortion without his knowledge.

“I wouldn’t want to have someone take my daughter to a hospital for an abortion or something and not tell me. I would kill him if they do that,” Schwarzenegger told The Sacramento Bee.

The star of such movies as “The Terminator” and “Predator” told The Bee he was not serious about the death threat, but his reaction as a father provided insight into his thoughts on the purpose of a state ballot initiative that would require parental notification for a minor’s abortion.

“It will be the ultimate of being outraged about it and angry about it,” he said Sept. 20 of a teen’s abortion without parental knowledge. “They call me when my daughter falls off the jungle gym in the school and they say, ‘What do you want us to use? Can we put a Band-Aid on it? Do you want to come in? She’s crying a little bit.’ They call us about everything. I don’t want them in that particular incident not to call us.”

Schwarzenegger, who has two teenage daughters and two preadolescent sons, told The Bee he agrees with the principle of the ballot measure but is uncertain if he will endorse it.

The initiative, Proposition 73, would require a 48-hour waiting period after notice is given to a parent or legal guardian before a doctor can perform an abortion on an underage female. The measure would permit a young woman to seek a bypass from a judge of the notification requirement.

COMA AWARENESS — An Italian man diagnosed as being in a deep coma for two years awoke recently to report he had heard everything that was said in his presence during that time span.

Salvatore Crisafulli, 38, a father of four, said through a brother, “The doctors said that I wasn’t conscious, but I understood everything and I cried in desperation,” Reuters News Service reported Oct. 7.

Crisafulli came out of a coma about three months ago but began speaking only recently, according to the report. His brother, Pietro, called Crisafulli an “Italian Terri Schiavo case,” Reuters reported. Schiavo, 41, was the brain-damaged Florida woman who died in March nearly two weeks after the tube that provided her with food and water was disconnected at a state judge’s order.

“My brother speaks and remembers,” Pietro Crisafulli told the Corriere della Sera newspaper, according to Reuters. “I don’t expect that he will be like he was, but it’s already a miracle.”

SILENCE FOR UNBORN — Students from hundreds of North American campuses will participate in a day of silence Oct. 25 to express their opposition to abortion.

As of Oct. 10, students on more than 500 campuses in the United States and Canada plan to participate in the Students Day of Silent Solidarity, according to Virginia-based Stand True Ministries, the sponsoring organization. Participants plan not only to remain silent but to wear red armbands and/or red duct tape on their mouths. Home-schooled students also plan to participate by distributing educational materials about abortion in public areas.

About 4,000 babies in the United States “are permanently silenced every day by the violent act of abortion,” said Bryan Kemper, president of Stand True. “This day is in honor of those children, and we will stay silent as an act of solidarity with these innocent victims.”