July 4, 2005
Six hours in the airport…
Surrounded by restless, cranky children and their restless, cranky parents…
Our flight is delayed again…and I have finished my book.
This is the time when boredom overtakes good manners, and I begin to read the newspaper in the hands of the woman across the aisle. My eyesight is just good enough to pick up the headlines:
Massive Drug Recall Spurs Questions
I have two hours in the airport to find a way to move into the seat next to the woman and finish reading the story over her shoulder. It only takes five minutes. Next to her, a restless business executive rises, checks his watch, and heads for the nearest lounge. I slip into his seat and begin reading.
The massive drug recall announced on the front page of USA Today papers is actually spawned in a small New Jersey community. Able Laboratories has suddenly pulled off the market millions of doses of drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced “serious concerns” that drugs produced by Able Laboratories “were not produced according to quality assurance standards.” Over 295 products are included in the recall.
Drug recalls…food recalls…medical device recalls…the FDA website list of recalls, withdrawals and alerts in the last 60 days is five pages long. Consumers are told to beware of bed systems, sulfites in dried vegetables, Mariani brand fancy golden raisins, undeclared soy nets in Catherine’s Finest Pecan Caramel Clusters, BetacTM, pet treats, implantable cardiac defibrillators, Elegant Gourmet cookies, Xigris, almonds…and more.
A recall of raw almonds due to reports of Salmonella Enteriditis in 2004 alone necessitated the recall of over 40 products from companies around the world: Royal Food International, GKI Foods, Sahadi Fine Foods, Apple Valley, Fort Fudge Shop, Jeppi Nut and Candy Company…and more.
And it should be no surprise that recalls can launch a flurry of lawsuits. At www.finddruglawsuits.com consumers are told “Lawyers Investigating.” You can click on the link and “find out about the drug recall. You may be able to get Cash back!” The list of “cash cows” over the years is extensive: Accutane, Celebrex, Ephedra, Fen-Phen, Lamisil, Viagra, Vioxx…and more.
Whole industries have collapsed as their products are challenged. Cigarettes, once the chic statement of Bogart and Bacall, after a twenty year campaign succeeded in uncovering the truth of research hidden and denied by tobacco companies, are now called “cancer sticks” on late night television.
Protecting billions of dollars of corporate profit, the temptation to hide product defects is enormous. Yet, truth does eventually surface…as Ford found out. Court cases documented that between 1971 and 1978, the Ford Pinto was responsible for a number of fire-related deaths. Ford puts the figure at 23; critics say the figure is closer to 500. The auto manufacturer did manage to survive the litigation, but not before being ordered by a California jury to pay a record-breaking judgment of $128 million.
With such an extensive record of drug and product recalls in America, one must wonder why discussions of abortion remain so simplistic. “Are you for abortion? Or against it?” Did we ever ask, “Are you for tobacco? Or against it?” We simply laid out the facts about tobacco and let people enforce the truth, if needed, through the courts.
Are you for the Pinto? Or against it? How can you know the answer to the question unless someone tells you the truth about the design flaw in the fuel tanks that causes them to rupture and explode into fire, killing the people you love?
Abortion is more than politics. It is a product. It is a product that has survived without question over thirty years in America. It is sold to consumers as a wonderful solution to their problems.
Yet, when a courageous editor is willing to challenge the liberal bias of his industry, stories expose the underbelly of abortion that many wish to deny. Women die from abortion, both surgical and chemical. Babies survive from abortion, even if maimed.
Abortion is linked to high rates of infertility, fueling a billion dollar industry for women who finally do wish to bring their pregnancies to term. And battles over the link of abortion to breast cancer are clouded by the knowledge that even scientists and researchers can hide the truth about products for the sake of the corporate bottom line.
Don’t be surprised if one day, when we are able to discuss abortion and the complexities of what it means to have courts protect the sale of this surgery because they are “for abortion”…don’t be surprised if one day, the truth rises from the ashes of people who suffered because we failed to ask the right questions.
An abortion recall…it’s not as far-fetched an idea as you might think.
June 25, 2004: Unplanned Joy
January 15, 2005: The Pregnant Elephant in the Room