- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Three Chicago residents are suing the National Abortion Federation on charges that the organization has used deceptive advertising on behalf of RU-486, known as the "abortion pill."
The suit, to be filed this morning in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, says the Washington-based NAF published a "deceptive advertisement" in the July issues of Self, In-Style and Vanity Fair magazines claiming that the pill was safe without mentioning any of its side effects.
"Right now, we're asking for a judgment that they violated Illinois law," says Curt Mercadante, one of the three plaintiffs. He is referring to the Illinois Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which forbids a business to represent goods or services to have characteristics it does not have.
"What we're hoping to do is raise awareness in the state and nationally about the advertising. We're familiar with Illinois law and perhaps people in other states will find other laws the ad violates."
Mr. Mercadante, who is the program director for the United Republican Fund of Illinois, joined with Nancy and Eugene Koprowski, also of Chicago, in filing the suit. The Koprowskis both work for the Institute for Human Rights in Chicago.
"Most women using the product will experience some side effects, according to the U.S. government," Mr. Mercadante says, adding that "even Joe Camel had to have a surgeon general's warning next to him."
The ad, which is displayed on the NAF Web site (www.prochoice.org), shows a thoughtful woman leaning against a window, with the text: "You have the freedom to choose. And now, you have another safe abortion choice."
Text at the bottom gives a toll-free number, another Web site (www.earlyoptions.org) and a reminder the pill has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The ad ran in the July issues of Self and People magazines and appears this month in Cosmopolitan, Fitness, Health, In Style, Jane, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Marie Claire, First for Women, Essence, Vanity Fair and Latina magazines.
"These are anti-choice activists," said Vicki Saporta, executive director of the National Abortion Federation, which has 400 member clinics nationwide. "The suit is wholely devoid of merit. Our advertising campaign is entirely proper, and our attorneys will look at the complaint and arrive at a definite course of action."
RU-486 is a chemical compound that, taken in pill form, can induce abortion in women up to 49 days — or seven weeks — pregnant. The drug is sometimes effective up to nine weeks of pregnancy, by which time the fetus' heart has started beating, its brain is functioning, and ears, fingers and toes will have formed.
The drug, taken in two stages over three days, induces a miscarriage. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, painful cramping and in some cases heavy bleeding. In 1994, during FDA trials of the drug, an Iowa woman nearly bled to death.
Although the U.S. government gave final approval to the drug last year, clinics and doctors' offices have been slow to distribute it, for fear of lawsuits, medical complications or protests.

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