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Falwell to Hefley: Shape up

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The battle to safeguard human life has been raging for decades, creating strong alliances built on shared values and common passions. Yet, for those in the pro-life movement, it is essential not to lose sight of the big picture when innocent lives are being threatened.

When I see even a strong pro-life voice in Congress like Colorado Springs Congressman Joel Hefley grappling with an issue that threatens life, I want his supporters to know it.

Importation of foreign drugs into the tightly protected U.S. market is one of those issues. The idea is that since medicines can be cheaper outside the country, we should bring them back into the country at that lower price. Sounds simple, but unfortunately, drug importation is about much more than getting cheap prescriptions. It's also partially about easing access in our country to abortion drugs like RU-486, euthanasia drugs, and "life extension" drugs of questionable merit and potentially harmful effect.

Would drug importation make non-FDA approved drugs legal, or put prescription drugs in the hands of those without prescriptions? No.

Would it make it easier for those who crave deadly drugs to get them? Unquestionably.

The issue centers on a piece of legislation known as the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act, introduced by Rep. Gil Gutknecht, a Minnesota Republican who ironically is a strong pro-life voice, and a man I admire. This Act would serve to essentially open the floodgates to drugs from outside the country, allowing drugs with unknown origins, production methods, packaging guidelines and transportation standards into the American prescription drug supply.

Once these drugs hit the American drug supply there is no controlling where they go and whom they impact. What's more, ratcheting open the walls that protect our market for medicines means that those who want to import bizarre and unethical medications will have that much more opportunity to do so.

Consider those supporting drug importation off of Capitol Hill, and that perverse motivation becomes clear.

For instance, drug importation advocates regularly cite research from the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in their arguments. But the so-called Life Extension Foundation (LEF), ironically, is a rabidly anti-life organization. It has cited RU-486 as an "anti-aging" medication and has demonstrated its disregard for human life not only by advocating cloning but embryonic stem cell research to reverse the signs of aging. Those who support taking the lives of unborn children to support the selfish desire to live a longer and fuller life are not the allies we hope to see advocating public policy changes for the America.

That is only the beginning, however. LEF also conducts bizarre cryogenics experiments. They are reported to have the body of baseball slugger Ted Williams frozen for eventual reanimation. The president of the organization, Saul Kent, likewise froze his mother's severed head, prompting a three-year investigation into the possibility that she was euthanized.

Supporters of drug importation are also relying upon a new book by Katharine Greider, The Big Fix. But Ms. Greider is not only an abortion advocate but also a booming voice of support for drugs such as "the morning after pill" and various other quick "medical" abortion solutions using drugs from RU-486 to chemotherapy agent methotrexate to ulcer-prevention drug misoprostol.

By deliberately applying fetus-threatening medications to pregnant women, "medical abortions," she writes, "offer a level of privacy and -- in these uncertain times -- safety not available with surgical procedures." What is more, she argues "some women actually find themselves waiting to undergo a surgical abortion until the seventh week of pregnancy."

The fact is that both the LEF and Ms. Greider have as priorities opening American drug markets as wide as possible. These are not the allies that Congressman Hefley should be working with on issues of such great pith and moment. Their priority is not cheaper drugs for our seniors -- the priority of the well-meaning Members of Congress who support drug importation -- but instead to get easier access to abortion.

Those concerned about innocent human life, as well as those concerned about the lives of anyone who takes medications in America should call on Congressman Hefley to stand by his commitment to life.

Editor's note: The Rev. Jerry Falwell is the chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Congressman Joel Hefley's Colorado Springs telephone number is 520-0055. He can also be reached in Washington D.C. at 202/225-4422.

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