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Feminist News


December-26-02

Bush Stacks FDA Panel: Ideology Trumps Medicine and Science Again

Despite fervent protests from a multitude of feminist and womens groups and key members of Congress, W. David Hager, an anti-abortion rights doctor who mixes the practice of medicine and religion, was among eleven physicians appointed Tuesday to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs. Hager, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Kentucky, is a member of the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and represented the group in its recent petition to the FDA seeking an immediate ban on mifepristone (also known as RU-486 and the abortion pill) as well as a complete review of its approval.

In early October, reports speculated that Hager was tapped to head the critical womens reproductive health panel. However, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan announced on Christmas Eve that Dr. Linda C. Giudice, M.D., Ph.D. of Stanford University Medical Center would chair the committee, which was responsible for making a key recommendation in 1996 that led to FDA approval of mifepristone. Though the panel has not met in two years, now newly-staffed, it has the potential to heavily influence womens health policy, especially regarding contraceptives, fertility drugs, and hormone-replacement therapy.

Two other doctors appointed to the FDA panel share Hagers conservative and religious views, according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Dr. Susan Crockett of Christus Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, is a board member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and co-author of the chapter Using Hormone Contraceptives Is a Decision Involving Science, Scripture, and Conscience in The Reproduction Revolution (Horizons in Bioethics Series): A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies, and the Family, a book co-edited by Hager, according to HealthScoutNews.

Dr. Joseph Stanford of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City advocates natural family planning, e.g. the rhythm method, as the only acceptable form of contraception because medicine is permeated with attitudes toward sexuality and fertility that are incompatible with Christian values of the sanctity of life, marriage, and procreation, attitudes that both reflect and perpetuate the recreational approach to sexuality found in our secular culture, reported HealthScoutNews.

Remaining members appointed to the FDA advisory committee include:
Vivian Lewis, M.D., Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Rochester Medical Center
Leslie Gay Bernitsky, M.D., an urologist from Albuquerque, NM
Nancy Dickey, M.D., the chancellor of the Texas A&M College of Medicine and the immediate past president of the American Medical Association. Dr. Dickey practices family medicine.
Scott Shields Emerson, M.D., Ph.D, a professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Michael Furman Greene, M.D., director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
George A. Marcones, M.D., M.S.C.E., a statistician and professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS

Mifepristone holds enormous potential for treatment of several serious illnesses including some types of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and possibly prostate cancer; uterine fibroids; endometriosis; Cushings syndrome and depression. One million women worldwide and 100,000 women in the US have safely and effectively used the FDA-sanctioned regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol for medi

Media Resources: PPFA 12/24/02; HealthScoutNews 12/24/02; FDA 12/24/02; Associated Press 12/26/02; Feminist Daily News Wire