Politics vs. science

A top official at the Food and Drug Administration quits over the Bush administration's delays on the morning-after pill.

By T.g.

Published September 1, 2005 1:52PM (EDT)

A lot of important stories will be lost in the flood -- is anyone really focused on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts just now? -- but here's one that bears at least a moment's notice. When George W. Bush's Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it would delay for an additional 60 days any decision on the morning-after pill, it infuriated more than just the Democratic senators who had been promised a decision would be made by Sept 1.

The delay enraged a top official at the agency responsible for the delay. Susan F. Wood, a biologist and the head of the Food and Drug Administration's women's health office, resigned Wednesday in protest over the delay.

"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled," Wood wrote in an e-mail message explaining her resignation. "The recent decision announced by the commissioner about emergency contraception, which continues to limit womens access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions, is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing womens health."

In a letter to the FDA Wednesday, Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray said that public confidence in the FDA's ability to make decisions "based on scientific evidence of safety and efficacy is eroding." The senators, who had voted to allow a confirmation vote on FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford only after Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt promised that a decision would be made by on the morning-after pill by Sept. 1, said it is time "to allow science, not politics, to guide" the FDA.

Politics over science in the Bush administration? For the residents of New Orleans, it all might sound a little familiar.

By T.g.


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