Monday, May 16, 2005

Time for Plan B

In December 2003 a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted 23-4 to recommend that Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Plan B contraceptive (the "morning after pill") be made available without prescription (over the counter). Then came a memo to the FDA from Bush appointee Dr. David Hager, a well known evangelical Christian OB-GYN on the panel. In May 2004 the FDA ruled against its own advisory committee, saying the drug had not been shown safe in young girls. Reuters reports that Senators Clinton and Murray are asking for an investigation as to whether Hager's advice was based on science or his religious beliefs.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Hager gave reporters conflicting accounts about who asked for the memo, at one point saying the request was from an FDA staff member and another time saying it came from outside the agency.

"Due to confidentiality, I am not at liberty to say who encouraged that this opinion be written," Hager said in an e-mail to Reuters.

An FDA spokeswoman said Hager sent the letter "as a private citizen" and that the agency does not ask for "minority opinions" from advisory committees. She said she could not release the letter, but that it might become public in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Hager is a spokesman for the Christian Medical Association and co-wrote a book that emphasizes the healing power of Jesus and prayer. But it turns out that Hager's co-author, his ex-wife Linda Carruth Davis, is disgusted by hypocrisy of his frequent proclamations of devotion to family values. In a lengthy report in The Nation by Ayelish McGarvey, she says he not only committed adultery but frequently engaged in non-consensual anal intercourse during their 32 year marriage and eventually she could not tolerate it.
According to Davis, Hager's public moralizing on sexual matters clashed with his deplorable treatment of her during their marriage. Davis alleges that between 1995 and their divorce in 2002, Hager repeatedly sodomized her without her consent. Several sources on and off the record confirmed that she had told them it was the sexual and emotional abuse within their marriage that eventually forced her out. "I probably wouldn't have objected so much, or felt it was so abusive if he had just wanted normal [vaginal] sex all the time," she explained to me. "But it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."
For the record, Davis remains a committed conservative and is still deeply religious. Her story has been corroborated by a number of friends and acquaintances in whom she confided during her marriage.

She at least, had a Plan B. That is more than Hager, the Bush Adminstration and the lapdogs at the FDA are affording women in this country.