Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bush Administration Censored Talk On Birth Control And Sex Ed

So says Dr. Richard Carmona, the former U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush (emphasis mine):

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush accused his administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic stem cell research.

"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as the nation's top doctor from 2002 until 2006, told a House of Representatives panel.

"The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party," Carmona added.

Carmona said Bush administration political appointees censored his speeches and kept him from talking out publicly about certain issues. He mentioned political interference preventing him from discussing the science on embryonic stem cell research, contraceptives and his misgivings about the administration's embrace of "abstinence-only" sex education.

Carmona's comments came two days before a Senate committee is due to hold a hearing on Bush's nomination of Dr. James Holsinger, who faces Democratic criticism, as his successor. The administration allowed Carmona to finish his term as surgeon general last year without a replacement in place.

I can't say I'm utterly surprised by the confirmation that this administration is censoring accurate reproductive health information. What I don't get is this administration's blinding ideological fervor. I mean, all the players involved are seasoned political operatives. They must be aware that actively working to substitute propaganda for science fundamentally, and irreparably, damages the process. They must also be aware that they don't get to rule for life or install their successors.

Once it has become acceptable to make health policy and medical decisions based on propaganda, any subsequent administration can, and will, propagandize science and medicine according to the dogma of its preferred Sky Fairy or "Power to the People" ideology.

This administration got away with a trailblazer--using the FDA to decide a drug's (Plan B) availability based strictly on party ideology. It set the precedent for a future administration to behave equally as irresponsible.

When a future administration institutes a one-child policy, or executes officials who don't tow the party line, or makes stoning part of the treatment protocol for rape patients, we mustn't forget to thank the Bush administration for its visionary conduct.

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