Contact Media Now Before Sales Begin
Press reports in mid-December forecast that the RU 486/Cytotec prostaglandin (RU 486/PG) abortion technique will be approved for U.S. marketing in January, 2000. Joan Combs, president of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, stated in the December 14, 1999, Philadelphia Daily News that “We have well-placed sources that tell us that mifepristone (RU 486) will be approved in January.” Likewise, an article in the December 13, 1999, People magazine asserted that RU 486/PG “may soon be available in the United States” since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “is expected to approve it by the end of January.” The apparent source for the assertion was Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, an abortionist interviewed for the article who has been one of the principal U.S. researchers on RU 486/PG.
Be pro-active. Dont wait until after the announcement to take action.
Alert your local media to the pending announcement, which will be a major breaking news story of national and local importance. Encourage reporters and editors to get a more accurate and authoritative picture of the health and safety issue. Help them to formulate well-informed questions to ask the abortionists. The RU 486/PG advocates own words (or unwillingness to answer) are much stronger evidence than we could ever provide.
Here are specific steps to take. (If the announcement has already been made by the time you receive this article, skip to Step Five.)
Contact your local media as soon as possible because the announcement of approval could come any time. You are helping them to do their job better by giving them time to prepare before the story breaks.
Give them a copy of page 5 of the Connector. It lists the two news stories that indicate the announcement will come in January and suggests questions that the abortionists should answer about safety and health concerns. Photocopy it as is and give it to your local media, or you may wish to retype it. (For brevitys sake, the fact sheet is short. For more details, either you or the reporter can go to the Life Issues Institutes Internet web site listed on the sheet.)
Encourage your local television, radio, and newspaper reporters who cover health, science, and politics (including abortion) to be fully prepared to report on RU 486/PG objectively and authoritatively. With the virtual blackout of coverage on RU 486/PG since 1996, few members of the media are likely to be familiar with the details of RU 486/PG that would be important to their viewers, listeners, and readers.
Suggest that if the national wire service story about the announcement does not have the answers to these key questions then they can contact the local abortionist. (They will want to do that anyway to round out the national story.)
As you know from past experience, the more personal contact you have with a reporter or editor, the better. If you are not sure whom to contact at your local paper or news station, make a telephone call and talk with the appropriate editor or reporter who is covering health (or science or politics). Tell the person that you have news about a important new story that could break in January. Ask if you could drop off a fact sheet with some background information about the medical and safety issues of the RU 486 abortion technique. (An alternative is to mail or FAX it.) Be sure that you get the persons full name, department, and address.
Offer to be available for comment when the story breaks.
Follow up with that contact person after a few days to see if they have any questions.
If the announcement story appears, follow up again. If the questions were not addressed, ask that the reporter write a more detailed local story that raises the issues. Write letters to the editor, or ask to go on the air at your local radio or TV station for an editorial.
Educate your members, the general public, and especially physicians, in your area.
Use the “teachable moment” when RU 486/PG is front-page news.
Since the general media coverage about RU 486/PG has been overwhelmingly positive and upbeat, women seeking abortions may not have heard about the dangers to them and their subsequent children. The truth might have to come through an alternative source.
Abortion advocates have long asserted that marketing RU 486/PG will increase U.S. womens “access” to abortion services because more physicians would perform abortions in their private offices. But local educational efforts to remind physicians of the communitys and patients opposition to abortion could prevent the spread of the dangerous chemical abortion method. In the broad context, the same reasons that physicians have articulated for not performing surgical abortions also apply to RU 486/PG. One of the key ones is community and patient opposition and the fear of being known as an abortionist.
(Actions to take if the RU 486 announcement has already taken place by the time that you read this article). Review your local media coverage of the national announcement and see if the reports covered the medical and safety issues listed on the next page (5).
If they didn’t, contact your local reporters and editors and suggest a local follow-up story to cover those issues. Suggest that they ask the local abortionists the questions on the enclosed information page.
Local women who may be considering using the RU 486 technique and the general public deserve to get the whole picture.