The status of the antiprogestin, abortifacient drug RU 486 in the United States is a clear case of science held hostage by politics. Although this drug may have a wide variety of uses, from contraception to the treatment of cancer, the Bush administration's antiabortion position--which is little more than pandering to a small number of antiabortion legislators and their constituents--threatens access to what may be a pharmaceutical breakthrough.

First, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a rarely used import alert. Quantities of the unapproved French drug destined for personal use can be seized at the border. Usually, an alert is enacted when surreptitious importation already is occurring, with the subsequent development of a black market. In congressional hearings last November, however, the FDA was forced to admit that it had no proof either was happening--or even likely to happen. The Bush administration also issued a sharp warning to the...

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