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FF Sparks (Casual)

[Politics] Government By the People, for the People... as long as they're fundamentalist

Received the following in e-mail. Putting it here for all the women in my friends list who might find it useful; I already forwarded it (with signatures) on to a few friends.

The short form, however, is that the Bush administration has selected as head of the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory committee a man who has expressed his opinion that birth control pills not be issued to single women, and that the proper treatment for PMS is to read the Bible for consolation and to pray.

Edit: Hrm. Looks like this has been circulating for a while; a friend pointed out that while the contents of the message are pretty accurate, Hagen was actually appointed to the committee back in 2003 regardless, though apparently not as head of it (perhaps in part due to the petition and outcry, perhaps not). So, not much to be done now... but it still sort of bothers me that someone like this was considered a reasonable appointment anyway by the Bush administration.

Subject: Hager FDA appointment

President Bush has announced his plan to select Dr. W. David Hager to head up the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. The committee has not met for more than two years, during which time its charter lapsed. As a result, the Bush Administration is tasked with filling all eleven positions with new members. This position does not require Congressional approval. The FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee makes crucial decisions on matters relating to drugs used in the practice of obstetrics, gynecology and related specialties, including hormone therapy, contraception, treatment for infertility, and medical alternatives to surgical procedures for sterilization and pregnancy termination.

Dr. Hager, the author of "As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now." The book blends biblical accounts of Christ healing Women with case studies from Hager's practice. His views of reproductive health care are far outside the mainstream for productive technology. Dr. Hager is a practicing OB/GYN who describes himself as "pro-life" and refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. In the book Dr. Hager wrote with his wife, entitled "Stress and the Woman's Body," he suggests that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome should seek help from reading the bible and praying. As an editor and contributing author of "The Reproduction Revolution: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality Reproductive Technologies and the Family," Dr. Hager appears to have endorsed the medically inaccurate assertion that the common birth control pill is an abortifacient.

We are concerned that Dr. Hager's strong religious beliefs may color his assessment of technologies that are necessary to protect women's lives or to preserve and promote women's health. Hager's track record of using religious beliefs to guide his medical decision-making makes him a dangerous and inappropriate candidate to serve as chair of this committee. Critical drug public policy and research must not be held hostage by antiabortion politics. Members of this important panel should be appointed on the basis of science and medicine, rather than politics and religion. American women deserve no less.

There is something you can do. Below is a statement to be sent to the White House, opposing the placement of Hager.

(1) Please copy and paste (DON'T forward) the entire email into a fresh email. Then sign your name below.

After you sign,


(2) Every 10th person who signs the list (i.e., #10, #20, #30, etc.) - please forward the entire e-mail to president@whitehouse.gov


I did some Googling, and it looks like this is over two years old. His appointment is a done deal, although (maybe, Snopes suggests, because of the protests) he wasn't appointed to actually chair the committee.
Yeah, I added an edit to that effect a little while before you commented. bluekitsune pointed it out.

In the interest of presenting the other side....

A quick google search found this;

"May I begin by telling you that no one who has written about me or broadcast information about me has ever interviewed me. The information being disseminated is rumor and innuendo. I am pro-life and believe in the sanctity of human life.

I participated in the Citizens Petition to the FDA asking that RU-486 be withdrawn temporarily from the market until further investigation could be done out of my concern for the health and well-being of women and their unborn children. Mifeprex was approved under an Accelerated Approval Process, Subpart H, that has been reserved exclusively for anti-AIDS and anti-cancer drugs and an antihypertensive agent. All medications that are life saving, which mifeprex is not. The FDA always requires one or more than one randomized, controlled trials before approving a drug. There were none for mifeprex (RU-486). The nonrandomized, uncontrolled trials that were done insisted on the woman having an ultrasound scan to locate the pregnancy and insure that it was not outside the uterus (an ectopic pregnancy). The guidelines for use now do not require such a scan and we have reports already of death and morbidity from ruptured ectopic pregnancies since the symptoms of a ruptured ectopic and abortion from mifeprex are the same; abdominal pain and bleeding. The FDA requires that medications that may be used in children and adolescents be studied in those groups before approval (The Pediatric Rule) and this was not done with mifeprex. There have been two seriously infected 15 year olds. Finally, in studies reported to date, among women who fail to abort after receiving mifeprex (and this occurs 5-8% of the time when administered up to 7 weeks gestation) there have been limb deformities and absent limbs. I feel that the drug needs further study. Searle Laboratories, the manufacturer of misoprostol (the second drug taken after mifepristone) has issued a medical alert asking that the drug never be used in pregnant women due to risks of cardiovascular problems. There has been a fatal heart attack in France and a non-fatal one here in a 21 year old.

Regarding contraception, I advise all of my non-married patients that abstinence is the best way to avoid non-marital pregnancy and STDs. If she insists on being sexually active or is already active, I advise the use of birth control pills and condoms as well. I do not believe that standard dose birth control pills are abortifacient, and have never written that. There is a chapter in a book I co-edited, that purports this idea, but it was included in our book to offer an alternative opinion, not because we believed the idea. Since when is it wrong to offer alternative opinions?

Regarding my management and writing about stress-related disorders in women, I have always offered a holistic approach to therapy. I suggest diet/exercise changes, medications as needed, counseling when required, and meditation/prayer. This is very distasteful to NOW and Planned Parenthood.
I hope this helps you and enables you to see how "horrible" I am in the eyes of the organizations you mention as encouraging me not to serve this Administration.
W. David Hager, M.D."

Re: In the interest of presenting the other side....

Fair enough.

Honestly, Time had a good article on him (can't find it offhand, but it was called 'Jesus and the FDA'), including the fact that although he denied certain claims (such as that he denied birth control pills to single women), his patients came forward to attest to them.

RU-486 is not the part which concerns me, because I think many drugs /are/ pushed through quickly, and could use more examination. But I'm unsettled by the 'holistic' and faith-based approach to medicine, such as telling people that prayer and reading the Bible is the appropriate way of dealing with PMS, and in fact co-authoring books which claim this.

Re: In the interest of presenting the other side....

There's a difference, I think, between saying it is *the* appropriate way, and *an* appropriate way. Would you have been as disturbed with a book recommending, say, Reiki, or something equally as metaphysical? (For dealing with PMS specifically, I mean.)

Check out this link...


It appears that Dr. Hager may well have been on to something - the FDA announcement sounds fairly similar to what he was warning about, no?

Re: Check out this link...

I think I stated, in an earlier comment, that I didn't care about the RU-486 portion of his stuff. I posted the e-mail as a public service announcement after it was sent to me; I didn't write it.


Yeah. Original comment:

RU-486 is not the part which concerns me, because I think many drugs /are/ pushed through quickly, and could use more examination.

Translation: I agree with him on this one.

Let me try to rephrase, since you seem to misunderstand what part of this concerned me. I think that a doctor /being given a Federal advisory position/ should not be saying 'turn to the Bible and use prayer' as a cure for physical ills. To add to this, I don't think a doctor being given such a position should be saying that you should sit zazen and chant sutras, or join in Tibetian Buddhist prayer, or pray to the Great Lizard Who Rides The Comet and is coming to take the faithful to the mothership. Meditation can be an aid to health, absolutely. And I can respect a doctor who says that. But as /soon/ as the doctor mixes faith in with it, I think it's a bad prescription, regardless of the faith.

Is it alright for a Buddhist doctor to tell a Christian patient that they need to start chanting sutras, and that will cure their headache, or ease their PMS? And if not, why should it be alright for a Christian doctor to prescribe the Bible and prayer for, say, a Muslim or Buddhist patient?

Hopefully this makes it clearer.
Oh, I get that. Sorry if I didn't make that clear, myself. I suppose I was just wanting to add a little bit of emphasis to the fact that it wasn't such an unreasonable position to take, and I apologize for not noting your previous statement in my comment. Mea culpa.

In response to your real concern, I think it is all in how it is presented. In his response he says he suggests, (as part of a holistic approach,) meditation and/or prayer. If it is phrased in such as way as to suggest some sort of meditation, *or* prayer, (to whomever, if applicable,) might be helpful, then no, I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. To be fair, I don't think *either* of us have read the book, and to answer that question fairly, I think I/we would have to see the actual text that is in question.

If he's suggesting to people that would find it intrusive to be "told" to pray? Yes, that would be a problem.

If he's suggesting that some sort of religious *or* non religious peaceful or centering activity like meditation or prayer might be helpful, as *part* of an overall treatment plan? Then no, I don't think that's a problem.

I think I shall look into this further, because right now, all either of us really have to go on are the original email that was circulated, and his rebuttal, and neither is exactly impartial. ;) I think having a look at the actual text would be helpful.

If I have repeated myself, or am otherwise incoherent in my response, please forgive me. Stupid (excessive hours of) mandatory overtime is very taxing on the grey matter. ;)
Er, *are* taxing. That's what I get for inserting something after I wrote the sentence and not checking the sentence before I posted it.