New York Times Examines ‘Growing Interference From Conservatives’ in Sexual Health Research
The New York Times on Sunday examined what some sexual health experts believe is a "growing interference from conservatives in and out of government with their work in research, education and disease prevention." According to the Times, such interference has consisted of reduced financing for sexual health programs and an "overall chilling effect" on research in the field. "Programs almost have to hide what they do," Richard Parker, a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and co-chair of the International Working Group on Sexuality and Social Policy, said. IWGSSP in June released a report that cited what it called "sex policing" by the Bush administration as well as inquiries by members of Congress regarding NIH research grants, the Times reports (Navarro, New York Times, 7/11). Earlier this year, conservative House members questioned at least 10 NIH research grants, including grants for studies on emergency contraception, Asian sex workers in San Francisco and women's response to pornography. NIH staff were required to review the grants to determine whether the projects "were relevant to the public health needs of our country," used methodology that was "scientifically and ethically appropriate," had been "properly reviewed and funded by NIH" and received funding that was proportional "relative to the burden of sexually related diseases as compared to other diseases" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/30). Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said that her group is challenging research grants that "don't pass the ... test," adding, "There's an arrogance in the scientific community that they know better than the average American" (New York Times, 7/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.