Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Time out. I'll get back to media reform info later, but right now you want to hear about The Nation's May 30 cover article.
You may remember the outrage from liberal groups during the fall of 2002 when Bush proposed appointing Dr. David Hager as chairman of the FDA's advisory group on women's health. They felt Hager was an inappropriate appointee because he had been part of an effort to halt distribution of the abortion pill, RU-486. Bush skirted the controversy by appointing Hager to the eleven-member panel (a position that does not require Congressional approval) rather than seeking approval for him as chairman.
It turns out that Hager's own sexual behavior is as much a cause to object to his official position as his public stands on abortion-related issues.The Nation avoids exposes of the private behavior of political figures unless that behavior is relevant to their public role. In Hager's case, his treatment of his wife of 32 years is relevant, involving as it does repeated, forcible sodomy.
During divorce proceedings, his ex-wife, Linda Davis, had not, out of respect for her three grown sons, exposed the behavior of their father. She probably never would have if she hadn't been in the congregation last October when he publicly blamed the breakup of his marriage on his frequent travel in the Lord's work. Having fumed over his syrupy hypocrisy and his sin of omission, she was receptive when Ayelish McGarvey of The Nation asked for an interview. Davis and various people who knew at the time about the ongoing problems in that marriage gave credible evidence of the charges. If the accusations were proven in court, his actions would be felonies.
Having until now been spared his wife's revelations, though, Hager appears to have been disproportionately influential at the FDA. That agency recently considered whether or not to approve over-the-counter sale of a drug called Plan B, which, if taken within 72 hours of intercourse, prevents fertilization and implantation of eggs. Easier access to the drug would probably lower the nation's abortion rate. Although the advisory board voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing over-the-counter sale of Plan B, Hager strenuously opposed it on the grounds that it would increase sexual promiscuity in young girls. The FDA has refused to legalize the drug, and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has called the decision a "dark stain on the reputation of an evidence-based agency like the FDA."
On June 30, Hager is up for reappointment to his post on the advisory board. Considering the firestorm of indignation over Bill Clinton's sexual peccadilloes, surely the right-wing won't let Hager's more heinous behavior pass. ... Surely. .. Don't bet on it.


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