A lawsuit against a leading pro-choice group, which said consumers have a right to know about the side effects of abortion drug RU-486, was suddenly withdrawn this week.
The lawsuit said that the National Abortion Federation used deceptive advertising when promoting RU-486 in several women’s magazines, including Self, InStyle and Vanity Fair. The advertisement failed to mention the side effects of the product known as the abortion pill.
“The withdrawal of the lawsuit clearly indicates that this case had absolutely no merit,” said NAF Executive Director Vicki Saporta. “The plaintiffs demonstrated throughout the process that this frivolous lawsuit was brought forward solely to advance their anti-choice agenda.”
But lead plaintiff Nancy Koprowski said both parties had agreed to drop the suit.
“This is a matter more appropriate, we believe, for the attorney general of Illinois and the other 49 states or the Federal Trade Commission,” she said. “Only they have the legal resources to battle the ACLU and the abortionists’ high profile lawyers. Only the commission and the attorney general can stop this deceptive advertising.”
Her husband, Eugene Koprowski, is running for Illinois’ 5th District seat in north Chicago, which is open. Its current occupant, Rep. Rod R. Blagojevich, Illinois Democrat, is running for governor.
A third plaintiff Curt Mercadante, said he dropped the suit to accept a job as press secretary for the businessman John Cox, who is angling for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.
A Cook County Circuit Court judge dismissed the case Tuesday and ordered the plaintiffs to pay the NAF attorney Roger Baldwin of the American Civil Liberties Union $315 for court costs.
The plaintiffs said in the lawsuit that NAF had violated the Illinois Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which forbids a business to represent goods or services to have characteristics it does not have.
The NAF, they said, should have mentioned some of the drug’s side effects, which include painful cramping and in some cases heavy bleeding.
The ad in question, featured on the NAF Web site, featured a pensive woman leaning against a window, with the text: “You have the freedom to choose. And now, you have another safe abortion choice.” The ad offered a toll-free number, the address of a Web site and a reminder the pill has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
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 have formed.
Some clinics and doctors’ offices have been slow to distribute RU-486, for fear of lawsuits, medical complications or pro-tests. The NAF’s ad campaign was an effort to get better publicity for the drug.
The ad also appeared in the fall issues of Cosmopolitan, Fitness, Health, Jane, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Marie Claire, First for Women, Essence and Latina.