Editorials Address Controversy Over Bush Administration’s Deletion, Alteration of Condom, Abortion Information on Government Web Sites
Two recent editorials address the controversy over the Bush administration's reported removal and alteration of medical information, such as information on proper condom use and information on the alleged connection between breast cancer and abortion, on government Web sites (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/26/02). In December, a group of 14 Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson accusing the Bush administration of "playing politics" by eliminating "key information" from the CDC Web site because it "conflicts with the administration's preference for 'abstinence-only' programs." The new information on the CDC condom fact sheet states that the correct usage of condoms "can reduce the risk of STD transmission ... [but] cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD." The administration also reportedly deleted information from the National Cancer Institute Web site stating that women who have undergone an abortion procedure are at "the same risk as other women for developing breast cancer" and added that "studies are inconsistent" regarding the possible connection between abortion and breast cancer (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/19/02). Summaries of the editorials appear below:
- The NCI will be "severely damaged" unless it can overcome "bull[ying]" by conservatives and "summon the courage to express its true views" on the link between abortion and breast cancer in its fact sheets, a New York Times editorial states. According to the Times, the NCI will address the issue at a conference in February, and if they agree there is no link it will have "no excuse to suppress the information." The editorial concludes, "[The NCI] will have to issue a new fact sheet or admit it can no longer provide objective guidance on matters that inflame social conservatives" (New York Times, 1/6).
- The removal of information from federal Web sites is not the only "stealth tactic" the Bush administration has employed to "pacify" conservatives, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says. The Bush administration has also begun screening the "political loyalties, rather than th[e] scientific expertise," of "hundreds" of nominees to the 250 scientific panels that provide advice to the federal government. According to a Los Angeles Times report, Bush staffers have asked potential candidates if they support abortion rights or if they voted for President Bush. The editorial concludes, "Both citizens and federal agencies deserve to receive advice based on facts and science, rather than on a political agenda. Last time we looked, the president is supposed to govern in the best interests of all Americans" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/5).