Surgeons general in political context

Re “Health official claims censorship,” July 11

It is distressing yet hardly surprising to hear former surgeons general testify about the politics of sex in Washington. Dr. Richard H. Carmona’s remarks powerfully confirm that the Bush administration’s support for strict abstinence-only programs is politically motivated and comes at the expense of women’s and girls’ health.

For years, the evidence has clearly shown that abstinence-only programs are ineffective and harmful to women’s health, yet the government continues to increase funding for such programs. Now that we have confirmed that federal policies on abstinence-only, emergency contraception and abortion are dictated by political agendas that Carmona testified were not supported by science, can we please take the political paws off women’s health? Reform of the surgeon general’s office is an important step in the battle to prioritize science. Yet as the testimony of the surgeons general exposed, there is much more work to be done to depoliticize reproductive healthcare issues.



Senior Staff Attorney

Legal Momentum --

Advancing Women’s Rights

New York


President Bush’s surgeon general nominee, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., is being lambasted for a paper he wrote for the United Methodist denomination 16 years ago, in which he identified health hazards of gay sex. Homosexual activists want him barred from high office because, as a healthcare practitioner, he said that homosexual practices are unnatural and unhealthy and can cause injury or death.

It seems those who believe and support a sexual ethic based on an orthodox reading of scripture, like Holsinger, are condemned and mocked by activists and even presidential candidates. Mark Tooley, director of the United Methodist Committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, has correctly said, “Opposition to any nominee based exclusively on church activities and traditional Christian beliefs sets a dangerous new precedent.”