Current Affairs

White House censorship of ‘doctor of the nation’

Natalie Relph July 12, 2007
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Dr Richard Carmona, who served as US Surgeon General between 2002 – 2006 said yesterday that Bush’s administration had censored his speeches and articles to agree with government policy.

He was testifying at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington.

“The reality is that the nation’s doctor has been marginalised and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas,” Dr Carmona told the hearing.

“The job of the Surgeon General is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party.”

Dr Carmona testified that he clashed with the Bush administration over issues of sexuality and contraception, because he opposed the government’s ‘abstinence only’ sex education policy.

His accusations of political interference were supported by former Surgeons General C Everett Koop and David Satcher, who served in the Reagan and Clinton administrations.

Mr Koop, who served between 1981-1989, spent many years trying to change the perception of AIDS from a moral to a public health issue.

He claims that President Reagan wanted to fire him, but chose not to intervene.

His successor Mr Satcher did not receive the same levels of political independence and neither did Dr Carmona.

White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said: “Dr Carmona was given the authority and had the obligation to be the leading voice for the health of all Americans.”

Last month the New York Times reported that potential candidate for Surgeon General Dr James Holsinger suitability for the job, specifically among the LGBT community, because of his anti-gay sentiments.

In 1991 he wrote Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality, arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy.

“As the leading spokesperson for matters of public health, the surgeon general should be guided by sound medical science, not anti-gay views rooted in religion-based bigotry,” said executive director Jeff Lutes of gay rights group SoulForce.

The White House has supported the nomination of Dr Holsinger arguing that he is a strong advocate for all groups without bias.

Confirmation hearings are scheduled for today to decide if Dr Holsinger is to be America’s eighteenth Surgeon General.

If confirmed he will become head of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

The Surgeon General is nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed via majority vote by the Senate.

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