NM Health Official Asked to Resign after Advocating Condom Usage

The chief medical officer for the New Mexico Department of Health resigned late last week, claiming she was asked to resign by the Governor’s office because she gave a television interview in which she advocated that teenagers use condoms to “slow the growth of sexually transmitted diseases.” The chief medical officer, Erin Bouquin, told the press that shortly after the interview, she was asked by department Secretary Catherine Torres to resign because she had not “met the expectations of the governor.” Governor Susana Martinez’s office denies the claim, saying the request that Bouquin step down was the result of department reorganization.

In the TV interview, Bouquin was asked by a reporter what the Health Department’s message to teenagers was. Bouquin responded, “Use condoms. Condoms are very important in controlling sexually transmitted diseases. I like the ABCs: abstinence, be faithful, and birth control.” In a press release denying the allegations, Governor Martinez’s spokesman said, “the governor is a proponent of taking a balanced and multi-pronged approach to controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; there is nothing in Dr. Bouquin’s interview that would conflict with that approach.”

The Associated Press reports that Bouquin said the New Mexico Department of Health is becoming more political. According to the report, Bouquin said that the department “recently applied for Title V federal funding that stresses abstinence-based sex education.”

ThinkProgress 5/25/12; ABC Local News 5/23/12; Associated Press 5/22/12

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