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Bush’s Politics Dictate Make-up of Scientific Committees

Several Health and Human Services (HHS) committees are in the process of being restructured or eliminated to fall more in line with President Bush’s views, according to the Washington Post. These committees are made up of experts in their fields who serve as advisors for federal policy and their interpretation of scientific data can have a great impact on federal policies and regulations, according to the Post.

One of the committees being disbanded, the National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee, works on issues relating to human test subjects in medical research. Some members of HHS speculate that the committee’s refusal to support the administration’s attempt to include fetuses in a federal regulation pertaining to research on newborns was its downfall, suggesting that Bush is trying to ensure that his scientific advisors reflect his anti-abortion politics. This theory is supported by the fact that HHS officials reportedly told committee members that they hope to include Dr. Mildred Johnson, a founder and former three-time president of the National Right to Life Committee, in a new committee on human test subjects, according to the Post.

Another committee being revamped advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health. Fifteen of the committee’s 18 members will be replaced this year with anti-environmentalists and prominent members of industries creating the pollution potentially harmful to human health that the committee is charged with investigating, according to the Post. In addition, the Post reports that at least one national renowned expert called to potentially serve on an HHS committee was rejected because his views on such issues as embryo cell research, cloning, and physician-assisted suicide were contrary to the administration’s beliefs.

Sources:

Washington Post 9/17/02