The Feminist Majority Report, Right-Wing Religious Investment Funds Scare Pharmaceuticals Away from Contraceptive Research reviews the right-wing religious investment funds that are the latest strategy in the right-wing attempt to scare pharmaceutical companies away from mifepristone (also known as RU 486) and contraceptive research. The report summarizes the activities of the Catholic Values Investment Fund, the Timothy Fund, and the Aquinas Funds, a Dallas-based Catholic mutual fund founded in 1994 that has claimed credit for stopping major pharmaceuticals from bringing mifepristone to the U.S.. As Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation reveals, “Of the nine major pharmaceuticals that were involved in contraceptive research and development in the 1960s and 1970s, only two remain . . .” From: The Feminist Majority Report - Spring 1998
Right-Wing Religious Investment Funds Scare Pharmaceuticals Away from Contraceptive Research
New right-wing religious investment funds are the latest strategy in the right-wing attempt to scare corporations away from mifepristone (also known as RU 486) and contraceptive research.
One of the right-wing investment funds -- Aquinas Funds, a Dallas-based Catholic mutual fund founded in 1994 -- has claimed credit for stopping major pharmaceuticals from bringing mifepristone to the U.S. The Aquinas Fund is an arm of the Catholic Foundation and uses the investment guidelines of the Catholic Church, including opposition to abortion and contraception.
An Aquinas Funds shareholder brochure states that “the drug companies in our portfolios will not be involved in the production or distribution of RU 486.” In media interviews, Aquinas CEO Frank Rauscher said that he obtained written pledges from six major pharmaceutical companies promising that they would not produce or distribute RU 486. Despite repeated calls, these pharmaceutical companies would neither confirm nor deny that they had issued such letters, but there is no question that anti abortion forces have put pressure on the pharmaceutical industry.
The Aquinas portfolio includes American Home Products, Pharmacia & Upjohn, and until last June, Johnson& Johnson -- some of the largest drug companies in the world.
Rauscher also claims the mutual fund persuaded Chase Manhattan Bank to stop contributing to Planned Parenthood. Aquinas has said they hope to use their leverage to pressure American Home Products, which sells produces birth control pills, and Pharmacia & UpJohn, which produces a contraceptive injection, to minimize their involvement with reproductive health products.
“Pharmaceutical companies essentially have abandoned the field of contraceptive research and development,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Of the nine major pharmaceuticals that were involved in contraceptive research and development in the 1960s and 1970s, only two remain -- Ortho of Johnson & Johnson and Wyeth-Ayerst of American Home. And both of these companies have refused to have anything to do with mifepristone or with similar compounds.”
Other similar funds have emerged in the last few years: the Catholic Values Investment Fund and the Timothy Fund (a fundamentalist Christian mutual fund).
A spokesman for the Catholic Values Investment Trust said that the fund would not invest in companies that manufacture contraceptives or abortion equipment. The Catholic Values Investment Trust removed the drugstore Rite Aid from its investments because the store sells contraceptives.
The Timothy Plan also opposes companies that make contraceptives and abortion products, including Pharmacia & Upjohn, Bristol-Myers Squibb (manufacturer of birth-control pills), companies that contribute to Planned Parenthood, and even insurance companies that cover abortion.
Research by the Birth Control Trust in England reveals that financial institutions in Great Britain, including Europe’s largest mutual life insurer Standard Life, are being pressured by an anti-abortion financial firm to with draw investments in companies involved in providing abortions, Ethical Financial, the anti-abortion financial adviser, claims that they have persuaded another financial company, Family Assurance, to boycott investments in private hospitals and manufacturers of equipment involved in abortions, and in pharmaceutical firms that produce the “morning after” pill or conduct research on embryos.
To send Take Action letters to two major U.S. pharmaceuticals urging them not to give in to right-wing pressure, see our Web site: http://www.feminist.org.
Clinics Offer Abortion Pill
Eleven clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices in New York, Montana, California, Maryland, Georgia, Nebraska, Vermont, and Washington state have access to a U.S.-made clone of RU 486, the “French abortion pill,” through an FDA-approved research project. Abortion Rights Mobilization, a nonprofit organization which is conducting the mifepristone trials through which the drug is available, released names and phone numbers of all the clinics and hospitals to family planning and women’s rights groups. For a list of clinics see the Feminist Majority Foundation web site: http://www.feminist.org/rrights/mifeptrials.html.
Sixteen hundred women have thus far been treated in the trials. ARM plans to treat at least 10,000 women. Preliminary results of a study based on the ARM trials found a high success rate using 1/3 the dosage of RU 486 com pared to the dosage used in European clinics and hospitals.
The Feminist Majority Report