The Feminist Majority will join the National Organization for Women, several members of the US Congress, and other concerned groups at 2 p.m. tomorrow in a press conference to get the word out about President Bush’s nomination of a heavily religious and anti-abortion rights doctor to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. 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.
“We must not allow a doctor who practices theology over medicine to make important decisions about women’s health,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Dr. Hager prescribes prayer for such serious illnesses as post partum depression. At the same time, he says that mifepristone, which the FDA recently put on fast track approval because of its incredible potential to treat post partum depression, should be banned. This is not responsible medicine.”
The Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee is an important, 11-member panel that can heavily influence women’s health policy. 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 magazine 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.”