Prolife activists are stepping up their campaign against the Upjohn Company’s production of prostaglandin drugs used in abortions.

Upjohn is the only American manufacturer of prostaglandins used in second-trimester abortions. The pharmaceutical company also is a leading international supplier of the drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, prostaglandins are used in some 10,000 abortions each year during the middle months of pregnancy.

A nationwide boycott of Upjohn products, including Nuprin, Motrin, and Unicap vitamins, has been in effect for more than a year. To promote the boycott and call attention to Upjohn’s continued production of prostaglandins, 15 prolife organizations recently sponsored a rally at Upjohn’s headquarters in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The rally attracted some 1,000 demonstrators.

“Hopefully, the people in the community had their consciences pricked and will be able to effect change within the company,” said Constance Anders, president of Kalamazoo Right to Life. Upjohn is the largest employer in the Kalamazoo area.

As the Kalamazoo rally was taking place, the Christian Action Council sponsored smaller protests at 14 of Upjohn’s 21 regional offices across the country. Curt Young, executive director of the Christian Action Council, said his organization wants Upjohn to realize the boycott has national support. In a related effort, several stockholders attending Upjohn’s recent stockholders’ meeting asked the company to stop producing abortion drugs.

The National Right to Life Committee and other prolife groups say the protest has assumed a greater urgency because Upjohn is researching a new drug called Meteneprost. The drug is a prostaglandin-tipped suppository that could induce an abortion in the first months of pregnancy.

The Upjohn company says it plans to continue producing prostaglandins, emphasizing the drugs have been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. According to a company publication, “Upjohn naturally recognizes the subject as controversial, but it has proceeded … for reasons of scientific obligation; belief in basic rights of choice for individuals, physicians, and society in general; and competitive thrust in research, discovery and development.” The publication also noted that despite “varying levels of disapproval by some anti-abortion groups,” Upjohn has backed the production of prostaglandins for more than 12 years.

By Kim A. Lawton.

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