President Bush has announced his plan to select
Dr. W. David Hager to
headup the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA)
DrugsAdvisory 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's views of reproductive health care are far outside the
mainstream for reproductive technology. Dr. Hager is a practicing
OB/GYNwho describes himself as "pro-life" and refuses to prescribe
contraceptives to unmarried women.
Hager is 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.
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.
Hager's mission is religiously motivated. He
has an ardent interest in
revoking approval for mifepristone (formerly
known as RU-486) as a safe
and early form of medical abortion. Hagar recently assisted the Christian Medical Association in a "citizen's petition"
which calls upon the FDA to revoke its approval of mifepristone in the name of women's health.
Hager's desire to overturn mifepristone's approval on religious grounds rather than scientific merit would halt the development of mifepristone as a treatment for numerous medical conditions
disproportionately affecting women, including breast cancer, uterine
cancer, uterine fibroid tumors,psychotic depression, bipolar depression and Cushing's syndrome.
Women rely on the FDA to ensure their access to safe
and effective drugs for reproductive health care including products
that prevent pregnancy.For some women, such as those with certain types of diabetes and those undergoing treatment for cancer, pregnancy can be a life-threatening
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
serveas 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.