The Bush Administration plans to appoint a heavily religious and anti-choice doctor to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee, according to Time magazine. Dr. W. David Hager, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Kentucky, is a member of the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and represented the group in the recent petition to the FDA asking for an immediate ban on mifepristone (also known as RU-486 and the “abortion pill”) as well as a complete review of its approval, claiming that the drug endangered the lives of women and their “unborn/newborn offspring,” according to a CMA news release. The committee that Hager would lead was responsible for a “key recommendation” in 1996 that led to FDA approval of mifepristone.
Hager is on the Physicians Resource Council for Focus on the Family, a conservative, anti-abortion group. Hager also combines religion in his medical advice. Among his writings are books called As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now and Stress and the Woman’s Body, both of which combine medicine with religion. Hager puts “an emphasis on the restorative power of Jesus Christ in one’s life,” recommending specific Scriptures and prayers for ailments such as headaches, premenstrual syndrome, and postpartum depression, according to Time and Focus on the Family’s magazine. Time also reports that in his private practice, Hager refuses to prescribe contraceptives to women who are not married.
The Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee is an important, 11-member panel that can heavily influence women’s health policy, according to Time. The Committee will lead the FDA’s study on hormone-replacement therapy for menopausal women, a very controversial topic right now in the medical community. Time reports that FDA senior associate commissioner Linda Arey Skladeny selected Hager for the position of chairmanÑSkladeny is a former lobbyist for the drug industry with “longstanding ties to the Bush family.”