Field of Science

Politics trumping the U.S. Surgeon General on stem cells, Plan B, and more

The Washington Post reports today (July 11) that Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general of the U.S. from 2002-6, is now saying that he was "muzzled" on numerous sensitive public health issues. He is quoted saying that the Bush administration's political appointees "ignored, marginalized, or simply buried" any medical or scientific information that didn't fit their ideology.
This is simply amazing coming from a Bush appointee. We all know that Bush and his staff carefully vet their appointees to make sure they hold politically "correct" (i.e., very conservative) views that mesh with Bush's own. It turns out that Carmona, a surgeon and former professor at the University of Arizona, is just too well educated to fit the bill, and he is now speaking out - now that he no longer works for the administration. (It's too bad he didn't speak when he was the surgeon general - Bush might have fired him, but it would have gained more attention.)
Among other issues, Carmona it clear that he supports research on human embryonic stem cells - a vital issue in medical research, which is being held back because of Bush's policy prohibiting federal funding for this research. Carmona says this issue and others was determined by theology, and by "preconceived beliefs that were scientifically incorrect." The Wash Post reports that Carmona was told simply to shut up about stem cell research when the debate was being engaged nationally.
He was also muzzled on other issues, including the "Plan B" pill that induces a miscarriage and birth control. On the latter issue, he was told not to speak out on the "abstinence only" education policy that the administration insists on, even though the scientific research makes clear that abstinence-only education doesn't stop teenagers from having sex (as if it ever would).
It's too bad that we have an administration in the U.S. that ignores science and lets theology and ideology rule over such critical issues affecting human health. But I'm pleased to see another prominent former official - one with scientific expertise - speaking out in opposition.

1 comment:

  1. The real question is - are there any former officials with scientific credentials who have said that this administration was supportive of science? I keep searching, but have yet to find any.

    ReplyDelete

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