For Immediate Release

October 17, 2002

Feminist Majority Foundation Opposes Bush Nominee for Vital FDA Post

WASHINGTON, DC Ð The Feminist Majority Foundation joins a coalition of women’s groups and Congressional leaders at a press conference today on Capitol Hill to tell the Bush Administration that a doctor who gives theology precedence over science should not be appointed as chair or a member of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee.

Dr. W. David Hager, a Kentucky doctor, “prescribes” prayer in the treatment of many serious illnesses and helped orchestrate the latest campaign to take mifepristone off the market.

“Dr. Hager is using his medical degree and position of power over a patient to push his religion,” said Dr. Beth Jordan, MD, a women’s health specialist and medical director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “If he wants to preach religion he should do it in a church but not in a doctor’s office or the FDA. His writings make it appear as though he is preaching to a ministry and not practicing medicine.”

As a member of the Christian Medical Association, Dr. Hager helped draft a petition submitted to the FDA this summer by a group of anti-abortion extremists requesting the reversal of mifepristone’s approval. Meanwhile, the FDA recently announced that mifepristone, an anti-glucocorticoid, has been put on fast-track approval for the treatment of psychotic major depression. Researchers at Stanford University found that medium and high doses of mifepristone significantly reduce psychotic symptoms of this debilitating disease within seven days in more than two-thirds of patients in a clinical trial. This disease includes post partum psychotic depression such as that suffered by Andrea Yates. Removal of mifepristone from the market could effectively end research supplies of the medication.

In a Focus on the Family article written in response to the Andrea Yates case, entitled “Beyond Baby Blues: Is Post Partum Depression a Diagnosis or an Excuse,” Hager makes no mention of the biological causes of this disease. Instead, he names guilt and post partum unattractiveness as causes, and recommends paternal involvement and reading of Scriptures.

“Dr. Hager must not be allowed to turn back the clock on women’s healthcare policy in the US,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Faith healers used to be confined to gospel tents. Now we want to put them in the highest offices of NIH and the FDA. Enough is enough.”

Dr. Hager co-authored with his wife, Linda Hager, Stress and the Woman’s Body, which recommends Scripture readings for the treatment of everything from eating disorders to headaches. Dr. Hager “prefers” not to give his unmarried female patients contraceptives and opposes emergency contraception.

“How can this man objectively evaluate such vital women’s health treatments as mifepristone and emergency contraception?” said Dr. Jordan, MD. “The Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee is one of the government’s most important committees on women’s health policy. Women deserve a first-rate scientist and medical doctor who will not substitute the findings of medical science with his religious ideology.”

The Feminist Majority Foundation administers the nation’s only mifepristone compassionate use program and spearheaded the 12-year movement for FDA approval. One million women worldwide and 100,000 women in the US have safely and effectively used the FDA-sanctioned regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol for medical abortion. Mifepristone has also shown enormous potential for treatment of several serious illnesses including some types of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and possibly prostate cancer; uterine fibroids; endometriosis; Cushing’s syndrome and depression.


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