Associated Press, November 3, 2006

Gore warns of dangers of sacrificing science to ideology



America is inviting problems and even catastrophe when it disregards science and reason in favor of ideology and power, former Vice President Al Gore told a Planned Parenthood gathering here Thursday night.

Gore listed several instances where he said science had fallen victim to ideology, involving the war in Iraq, decisions on drugs and food safety, the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act.

He also suggested the country's leaders had ignored inconvenient warnings from generals who said invading Iraq with too small of a force invited disaster, and warnings from meteorologists before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

"If we believe that we can create our own reality, if we believe that the instruments of mass persuasion are more important than the truth, and that we can use the mass media and the influence over those who guard the gateways to it, in lieu of trying to conform policies and decisions to the best evidence, then we invite trouble," Gore said.

Much of the attention on Gore lately has dealt with his efforts to sound the alarm about global warning, but he touched on that only in passing.

"I believe the climate crisis can only be solved by addressing the democracy crisis," he said. "And I believe the democracy crisis ... is largely due to what has been a growing disrespect for the role of reason in the conversation of democracy."

The event raised over $300,000 for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and drew about 1,500 people, spokeswoman Allison Frailich said.

Sarah Stoesz, chief executive of the regional Planned Parenthood chapter, said in an interview that there are parallels between Gore's work and her group's work on issues such as winning approval for the morning-after pill, preventing teen pregnancy and promoting the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"We struggle through some of the same issues in our work to put scientific data at the heart of good public policy that Gore struggles with in his work on global warming and the environment," Stoesz said.

Gore asserted that much of the opposition Planned Parenthood encounters from the anti-abortion movement comes because its foes are willing to set aside science, reason and logic.

"The danger in ignoring the truth promoted by Planned Parenthood and the scientists that inform your work, the danger in ignoring the truth and the science that should and must inform the decisions made in this great republic, the dangers in believing that we can set aside inconvenient truths and choose our own facts, are ones that the American people should not be asked to bear," he said.

The state's largest anti-abortion group, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, also contends its positions are supported by science, spokesman Bill Poehler said.

"There's no tension between science and the pro-life position," Poehler said. "It's a scientific fact that a unique human being begins life at conception, and so based on that scientific fact we believe life needs to be protected."

Planned Parenthood operates 23 clinics in Minnesota and two in South Dakota and has a public affairs office in Fargo, N.D. Stoesz said the clinics serve nearly 60,000 patients per year and the group's education programs serve another 20,000.

On the Net:

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Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life:

<< Associated Press -- 11/3/06 >>

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