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August 31, 2005

Another One Bites the Dust

You know, the most surprising thing about this is that it took so long:

The top Food and Drug Administration official in charge of women's health issues resigned today in protest against the agency's decision last week to further delay a final ruling on the whether the emergency contraceptive "morning-after pill" should be made more easily accessible.

Susan F. Wood, assistant FDA commissioner for women's health and director of the Office of Women's Health, said she was leaving her position after five years because Commissioner Lester Crawford's decision on Friday amounted to unwarranted interference in agency decision-making.

"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overuled," she wrote in an e-mail to her staff and FDA colleagues.

This is not a good work situation for professionals. As Chris Mooney lovingly documents in his impressive new book, "The Republican War on Science", the Bush administration's attitude towards expert testimony mirrors their feelings towards protesters outside Bush's ranch. The only difference seems to be that Republicans can't understand why they let these reality-based naysayers into the building. Never mind, though, they're doing an excellent job driving such people out of the administration. Paul O'Neill couldn't take the deficit fantasies, Richard Clarke couldn't countenance the Iraq fictions, and much has been written on the veritable exodus of State Department officials and intelligence agents who decided that this would be an excellent time to explore fly-fishing. And now Susan Wood is out, another disillusioned expert whose testimony fell on bemused ears. Soon Karen Hughes will start her job, and anyone who thinks Bush appoint a seven foot tall white woman to aid our public face in the Islamic world should think about renewing their subscription to "Bridge Investments Quarterly". She's going to clean out State, long the Bush administration bureaucratic bete noire.

There's always the argument that these folks should hold on, that Woods should keep fighting and Clarke should keep pushing -- without them, who's left fighting the good fight? But the truth is, it doesn't much matter who's fighting the good fight if the American people aren't watching and the victories aren't coming. I hope Woods enjoys her next project -- God knows it'll bear more fruit than her last one.

August 31, 2005 in Bush Administration | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 31, 2005 8:47:06 PM


People are still too cozy to worry about what's happening up on top....why protest, my house is worth three times what I paid for it! Perhaps, though gas prices will strike a nerve and waken the tiger.

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Aug 31, 2005 2:26:56 PM

Staying inside is not going to help Woods, or us. She was completely ignored in her position. She may not have the official power of the FDA when she leaves, but she never had it when she was there. What's more, her message and her work are powerful enough that when properly harnessed, can challenge the current status quo. I'm glad she left, I'm glad she made a big deal about it, and I hope she continues making lots of noise.

Posted by: Sara | Aug 31, 2005 3:38:00 PM

I'm glad she made a big deal about it, and I hope she continues making lots of noise.

Thats the key. Her internal rumblings would never be let out to the media if she stayed. Her quitting draws even more attention to the situation. At the same time, it takes the administration just one step closer to be fully responsible.

Posted by: Adrock | Sep 1, 2005 11:25:58 AM

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