Some Lawmakers, Abortion-Rights Groups Criticize Nomination of Antiabortion OB/GYN to FDA Advisory Panel
Democratic lawmakers and abortion-rights groups yesterday urged the Bush administration to cancel its plan to appoint Dr. David Hager to serve on the FDA's Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, Reuters Health reports. Hager is an OB/GYN who opposes abortion rights and has written books on how prayer can "cure disease" (Rovner, Reuters Health, 10/16). The panel advises the FDA on a number of family-planning-related issues, including mifepristone and contraceptives. Hager recently assisted the Christian Medical & Dental Association in compiling a "citizens' petition" calling on the FDA to reverse its approval of mifepristone (Tumulty, Time, 10/14). He also has reportedly "condemned" oral contraceptives because they provide a "convenient way for young people to be sexually active outside marriage" (Associated Press, 10/10). The lawmakers and organizations opposed to Hager's nomination also noted that he opposes emergency contraception. Saying that Hager has "bizarre views on women's health," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said he is "the wrong choice to head so important a panel" (Reuters Health, 10/16). Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) added, "By stacking these important committees with right-wing ideologues instead of respected scientists, the administration puts the health and well-being of Americans at risk" (Washington Times, 10/17). National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy said, "Dr. Hager may or may not be a fine doctor. But it's clear he puts his religion ahead of his medicine" (Reuters Health, 10/16). HHS spokesperson Bill Pierce said that Hager has not yet been formally appointed to the committee, and disputed news reports that Hager is being considered to head the panel (Neergaard, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/16).
Antiabortion advocates and conservative groups support Hager, calling him a qualified physician and pointing out that he has served on advisory panels in the past. Family Research Council President Ken Connor said that those opposing Hager believe that "even if a candidate is well-qualified and a good doctor, they can't be an outspoken Christian and get appointed to the FDA or any other post that has the power to influence abortion policy" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/16). David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical Association, added that Hager is not suggesting that women substitute prayer for medical treatment, but that they supplement treatment with prayer (Washington Times, 10/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.