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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, February 21, 2003

Faith-based medicine inappropriate for FDA

As cheerleaders for progress in women's reproductive health, we join the chorus of opponents to President Bush's selection of Dr. W. David Hager as head of the Food and Drug Administration's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee.

Hager is a devout Christian obstetrician and gynecologist whose track record suggests he has no qualms about mixing his religious beliefs with his medical practices.

Is this the kind of physician we want leading a powerful federal panel whose decisions impact tens of millions of women's lives?

The FDA's reproductive health committee makes crucial decisions on drugs used in obstetrics and gynecology, including hormone therapy, contraception, infertility treatments, and alternatives to sterilization and abortion.

The committee also is charged with conducting a major study of hormone replacement therapy in menopause.

Aside from opposing abortion, Hager disapproves of birth control pills, which he has described as agents that induce abortion. As an author, Hager has suggested that women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome and other ailments seek relief by reading the Bible and praying.

And as a member of the Christian Medical Association, Hager has agitated for a ban against the drug RU-486, also known as mifepristone, which could offer effective treatment for breast cancer, uterine fibroid tumors and various psychological disorders.

Physicians have every right to practice their religion, Dr. Hager most definitely included. But we don't want to see faith-based medicine set back women's reproductive health. It has advanced too slowly as it is.