Philadelphia Daily News (USA), September 23,
Bush sells out people's health
to religious zealots, corporate contributors
by Carol Towarnicky
As a liberal, I try to do unto others what many
supporters of President Bush would never do
unto me: I respect their right to hold religious
beliefs different from mine.
Pray and Let Pray _ that's my motto. Or Pray
and Let Not Pray.
But even liberals shouldn't tolerate the Bush
administration's attempts to enshrine religious
beliefs in government agencies, especially
those that deal in science and health.
To a degree unprecedented in American history,
the Bush administration has attempted to "cook"
scientific studies to match its religious agenda
against abortion and contraception. It also
bows down to the doctrine of corporate greed,
suppressing or distorting scientific evidence
to match the business interests of its pollution-prone
corporate sponsors like big agriculture and
the mining and oil industries.
Compiled in two reports by the Union of Concerned
Scientists, these "W.hoppers" serve
to undercut the basic protections that we expect
government to provide by inspecting our food,
measuring the pollution in our air and water,
and assuring the quality of our drugs. Some
The Centers for Disease Control has removed from
its Web site a link to a list of programs scientifically
proven to reduce teen sexual activity. All
were comprehensive sex education programs,
which combine the teaching of abstinence with
information on contraception. That just wouldn't
do for an administration that has sunk millions
into abstinence-only programs.
By contrast, there is no scientific evidence
that abstinence-only programs do any more than
increase the budgets of the faith-based organizations
that run them. So the CDC simply did away with
the requirement that such taxpayer-funded programs
be proven to reduce teen sexual activity.
The CDC and the U.S. Agency for International
Development hid the scientific fact that condoms
are effective in preventing HIV/AIDS. The National
Cancer Institute misrepresented the scientific
consensus that abortions do not cause breast
cancer. In refusing to allow the over-the-counter
sale of emergency contraception, the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration ignored its long-standing
approval process for drugs and overruled the
recommendations of the FDA staff and two advisory
After pressure from pork producers, a U.S. Department
of Agriculture microbiologist who had found
antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the air near
hog confinements in Iowa and Missouri was prevented
from presenting his findings.
The Environmental Protection Agency delayed for
nine months the release of a report showing
that 8 percent of women ages 16-49 have elevated
mercury levels in their blood that could lead
to reduced IQs in their children. The mining
industry is a major source of mercury.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
rejected the reappointment of leading authorities
on the subject of lead poisoning to an advisory
committee that was supposed to re-examine federal
standards for lead and health risks it poses
for children. The committee then was stacked
with scientists friendly to industry.
After intervention from the White House, the
EPA removed any mention of global warming or
climate change from a supposedly comprehensive
report on air pollution.
Fact-based reports from scientists at the U.S.
Department of the Interior routinely have been
ignored or misstated to support the administration's
agenda on issues like development, drilling
in Alaska, and protecting endangered species.
And the most outrageous: Even though it had evidence
to the contrary, the EPA told rescue personnel
and residents that the air around Ground Zero
in New York was safe soon after the Sept. 11,
2001 terrorist attacks. Apparently, reopening
Wall Street was more important than the health
of American heroes.
No wonder that 4,000 scientists have condemned
the Bush administration's misuse of scientific
information and 48 Nobel prize winners support
John Kerry for president.
Politicizing science may attract a few more votes
from the political base and a few more (millions
of) dollars in campaign contributions _ but
at a grave cost. Messing around with the scientific
underpinnings of government agencies threatens
our lives and health.
Where I pray, that's immoral.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Carol Towarnicky is chief editorial writer
for the Philadelphia Daily News. Except for
brief intervals on maternity leave and on strike,
Towarnicky, 55, has spent the last 30 years
at the Daily News. She has been chief editorial
writer of the Daily News since 1992, writing
editorials on a wide variety of issues, including
reproductive and civil rights, poverty and
welfare, and local and national politics.
With Sandra Shea, Towarnicky co-wrote editorials
that were a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
in 2002. She was the winner of the 1993 Eugene
C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writers.
She has won national awards for editorial
writing from the National Women's Political
Caucus and Planned Parenthood of America and
her fiction writing has been recognized with
grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the
Arts and the Leeway Foundation.
Readers may write to her at the Daily News,
400 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19130,
or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
<< Philadelphia Daily News -- 9/23/04
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