Public Health Being Gagged, Hog-tied and Tossed in a Trunk

The current Administration has given us more than enough cause for concern that they consider science to be simply another opinion. From global warming to emergency contraception, the views of those who know best have been tossed aside to placate the warped and self-serving appetites of constituencies that wield power, money, and votes. In fact, in Washington these days, public health doesn’t just take a back seat to this reality—it is gagged, hog tied, and tossed in the trunk. Think about promoting marriage as a means of HIV prevention in places where marriage is actually a risk factor for acquiring HIV and you’ll understand the mindset. Don’t try to be reasoned and logical, just go with it….

I’ve known this for years so I suppose it was odd that I was actually surprised when, two weeks ago, I learned that I had become the latest poster child for the assault on logic and science. It came second hand as I was told I was persona non grata at the upcoming national sexually transmitted disease conference hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several other non-profit organizations. The story has been sufficiently covered since and I refer readers to articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Slate Magazine, and the Washington Post for more details.

I went to the conference anyway. Sitting through the presentations of Dr. Patricia Sulak, one of the “experts” brought in to “balance” the session (and replace me), was a true lesson in the suspension of logic. Sulak spoke as if she were a great champion of contraception all the while not disclosing that she has made a mint off the federal ab-only industry in hawking her curriculum, Worth the Wait. Instead, we were told disturbing anecdotes about her own sex life (ALWAYS A NO-NO), cajoled repeatedly to believe that she was one of the top contraceptive researchers in the country, and, to crown it all, informed that she had received a call from the White House to become Surgeon General. Trust me, Richard Carmona is a God-send if there is truth in her assertion.

But it wouldn’t surprise me either. If FEMA could be run by an equestrian aficionado, why not an obscure and self-aggrandizing Doc from the Presidents’ home state as Surgeon General? Then, instead of a war on obesity, we might have a war on sex. Oh wait, we’ve already got that and it’s follies like the recent national STD meeting that bring the point home. Go to and continue the noise.

William Smith is Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

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