Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Friday, September 29, 2000

Abortion pill approval
could affect election

Bullet The issue: The Food and Drug Administration has approved use of the abortion pill RU-486.

Bullet Our view: The action could make abortion a bigger issue in the presidential election.

THE issue of abortion has erupted again with the Food and Drug Administration's approval of use of the abortion pill RU-486. This would give American women seeking abortion another option besides surgery. But this isn't the end of the struggle. Abortion opponents, who have fought to keep RU-486 out of the United States since the drug was introduced in France in 1988, vowed to continue the battle. Their efforts should be confined to peaceful, legal tactics or they will risk discrediting their cause.

The FDA action could also make abortion a more important issue in the presidential election campaign. Republican candidate George W. Bush opposes abortion; in 1989 his father's administration banned RU-486, now known by its chemical name mifepristone. The Clinton-Gore administration is pro-choice and has worked to bring the abortion pill to this country.

It seems certain that the candidates will now have to defend their positions on abortion extensively when they may have preferred to focus on other issues.

The pill has been used by millions of women in 13 countries but can be used only in the earliest days of pregnancy. Proponents say it could transform abortion by making it more accessible and more private.

Use of the abortion pill isn't expected to increase the number of abortions. But doctors who don't offer surgical abortions may now offer the pill. This would make it easier for women to obtain abortions without traveling long distances or entering surgical clinics past crowds of protesters.

The FDA announcement could trigger more than legal opposition. Regrettably, there is a clear danger of an upsurge of violence. The FDA has increased security in some of its offices. The names of the medical officers who reviewed the drug are being kept secret for their protection.

The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade established the constitutional right to abortion. The pill provides another method of abortion but does not appear to raise significant legal issues, although opponents may try to raise some.

Now that RU-486 has won FDA approval, which seemed needlessly delayed, it should be made available quickly to women who want it -- provided that the recommended safeguards are in place.

Judie Brown of the anti-abortion American Life League warned, "We will not tolerate the FDA's decision to approve the destruction of innocent human persons through chemical abortion." But opponents cannot be permitted to employ violence in fighting the pill. There have already been too many outrages -- including murders -- committed in the anti-abortion cause.

PacWest breakup

Bullet The issue: Ten of the Pacific West Conference's 16 teams plan to leave the league, leaving only four Hawaii colleges and schools in Montana and New Mexico.

Bullet Our view: The Hawaii colleges may be left with the choice of joining another Western conference or becoming unaffiliated.

IN a move reminiscent of the breakup of the Western Athletic Conference, 10 schools are planning to leave the Pacific West Conference, with only four Hawaii colleges and colleges in Montana and New Mexico remaining. The move leaves the league's future in doubt for the very reason that caused the departure plans -- travel expenses.

The proposal is to be considered Monday at the PacWest Membership Council meeting in SeaTac, Wash. The plan is to form a new conference next July comprised of the PacWest's eight Western Division members -- Seattle University, Seattle Pacific, St. Martin's, Western Washington, Central Washington, Northwest Nazarene, Humboldt State and Western Oregon -- plus Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks. Left in the PacWest would be BYU-Hawaii, Chaminade, Hawaii-Hilo, Hawaii Pacific, Montana State-Billings and Western New Mexico.

Chaminade and Hawaii-Hilo have been PacWest members since the early 1990s. In 1998, HPU and BYU-Hawaii were among 10 members, mostly NAIA schools, that were added to the conference.

The league's expansion was aimed at curbing travel costs and promoting local rivalries, but costs and missed class time remained concerns, according to a letter from Western Washington President Karen Morse informing Chaminade President Sue Wesselkamper of the planned disbanding.

"While there will always be tension between academic and athletic interests, the West Division determined the attempt at sustaining a 16-member Pacific West Conference is not in its individual or collective best interests," Morse said in the letter, obtained by the Seattle Times.

Travel costs were a major reason for the decision by most charter members of the WAC to abandon that league two years ago and form the Mountain West Conference. It is not surprising that NCAA Division II teams with smaller budgets would not be able to sustain costs of participating in a league sprawling over eight states and four time zones.

THE PacWest breakup might bring an initial windfall to the Hawaii schools through fines to be paid by the departing colleges. However, at least six teams are needed to maintain NCAA sanctioning.

Montana State-Billings and Western New Mexico can hardly be expected to remain in the conference any longer than necessary to collect revenue from the fines. The Hawaii schools may be forced to scout around for another West Coast-based league to join or become independent.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin