01 September 2005

Plan B and politics

Welcome to the latest episode in this country's unchecked descent into blatant theocracy, where our new motto is: "Our narrow minded interpretation of Christianity: we might not be able to make you believe it, but by God we're going to do our damndest to make you live by it."

In an event largely overshadowed by recent events in along the Gulf Coast, FDA Assistant Commissioner Susan Wood resigned in protest of the FDA's decision to postpone, yet again, a decision on whether or not to allow "Plan B" birth control pills to be sold over the counter. Wood headed the FDA's Office of Women's Health. Wood wrote, in a widely circulated email message, that she could, "no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended by the professional staff here, has been overruled."

"Plan B" birth control is highly controversial, in the same way and for the same reasons that evolution is controversial: the radical wing of the so-called Christian right finds the entire concept to be morally objectionable, and they are doing everything in their power to fight it. It is not scientifically controversial in any way. As a New England Journal of Medicine editorial points out, an advisory panel agreed, by a vote of 28 to 0, that this drug is safe. The same committee voted 23-4 to approve the drug for over the counter sales. The FDA's professional staff agreed with that recommendation, but in an almost unprecedented move the FDA management overrulled the advisory panel and its own scientific staff, and rejected the application. FDA management cited fears that over-the-counter access would increase promiscuity in adolescents as their grounds for disapproval, although that very issue had been considered and rejected by the advisory panel.

Subsequently, the manufacturer resubmitted the application with the suggestion that the drug be made available over the counter only to those over 16. A decision on the application was due today, but the administrators have postponed ruling for at least 60 days over technical issues.

The actions of the FDA in this case reek of politics. Actually, that's an understatement. They stink of politics. The odor is stronger than week-dead fish in July. This is, of course, absolutely nothing new for this administration. These people, who believe that their values are absolutes, also believe that reality is relative, and should be distorted until it properly fits into their twisted little narrow view of things. They feel that their beliefs are better than anyone elses, and that they should govern what happens, even if this means that a government body intended to ensure that decisions about drug availability are made based on objective scientific evidence is forced to make sure that God's Word comes first, and science second. Hmmmm. I wonder where I've heard that before?

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