Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Politicizing Medicine...

On Tuesday July 10, the House Oversight Committee held hearings on the importance of the Surgeon General's ability to function independently and without political influence. Dr. Richard Carmona, Surgeon General of the United States from 2002 through 2006 testified that the Bush Administration often pushed him to advance a political position rather than one based on sound science and research. Regarding important policy issues related to stem cell research, contraception, mental health preparedness, the danger of second hand smoke, and abstinence-only sex education, Carmona argued that within the Bush Administration

"Much of the discussion was being driven by theology, ideology, pre-conceived beliefs that were scientifically incorrect."

Carmona also testified that he was often muzzled by

"supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas"
and said that,

"Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological, or political agenda is ignored, marginalized, or simply buried."
Carmona testified that political appointees had to “vet his speeches” and often spun his comments so that they would "be preferable to a political or ideologically pre-conceived notion that had nothing to do with science.” He was also barred from speaking freely to reporters.

See clips of Carmona's testimony

Perhaps, then, it is not that surprising to learn the new nominee for Surgeon General is Dr. James W. Holsinger. Holsinger is a good fit for the Bush Administration's theological and political agenda--he is an avowed homophobe who founded Hope Springs Community Church, which

“ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian."
In 1991, Holsinger wrote a "scientific" paper for the United Methodist Church titled "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality," which argued (in my rough translation) that
...the anus is an exit ramp, not an entrance ramp and anal sex could cause lacerations, or worse....death
Here's the paper in all it's ridiculousness

The Senate will take up Holsinger's nomination on Thursday. Please consider calling your senator and let them know what you think about the politicization of medicine.

"On My Mind"
is a column designed to encourage discussion within the medical community about politics and health issues. The writer of this column is a professor of American history and has an unhealthy obsession for politics.

All comments welcomed. Post by clicking on "comments" below.

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