Facing down the screamers

Posted: Dec 31, 2002 12:00 AM
The latest liberal attempt to blacklist pro-life conservatives failed last week. The Bush administration finally appointed W. David Hager, a University of Kentucky obstetrician-gynecologist, to the Food and Drug Administration's advisory committee for reproductive health drugs. Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt must be hoarse now, because she screamed for over two months about Hager, who committed the sin of vigorously questioning the safety to mothers of the abortion pill RU-486 (mifepristone). Feldt called the appointment of Hager and two other gutsy pro-life doctors, Joseph B. Stanford of the University of Utah and Susan A. Crockett of University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio, "a Christmas gift to religious extremists." Frenzied media and Democratic Party objections to the appointment have been extraordinary for two reasons. First, the appointment is to an advisory committee, one that makes no decisions. Advisory committees are usually constituted in a way to make sure that the actual decisionmakers get advice from a variety of perspectives. This appointment should have been no big deal, but Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton made it one. Second, those objecting to Hager seem to live in a country other than the United States. The Des Moines Register editorial board was shocked that Hager has said that the place to find safe sex is "within marriage." Hasn't the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) taught us that? New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd complained that since Hager does not ignore his Christian beliefs when grappling with social problems, he is trying to bring back "medievalism." But Dowd was one of the leading complainers about Bill Clinton's Bible-plus-adultery compartmentalizing. Hager's appointment is an excellent one for three reasons. First, he has the credentials. Hager received the "Outstanding Physician in America Award" from Modern Healthcare magazine in 1994. This year, Ladies Home Journal named him one of the "Best Doctors for Women" in the Southeast. His work has been published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. He's edited two textbooks -- "Infection Protocols for Obstetrics and Gynecology" (1992) and "Protocols for Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology" (1999) -- put out by highly regarded medical publishers. Second, Hager represents tens of millions of Americans who have faith in Christ and believe that his teaching is relevant all through the week, not just for an hour on Sunday morning. It's good to have a variety of views on advisory committees: Why should a biblical view be excluded? As David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical Association, put it, "If being a-religious is the criteria for public service, then most of our founding fathers would have been disqualified." Third, Hager's compassionate conservatism animates the work at his Women's Care Center in Lexington, Ky. Recalling the treatment of a 17-year-old girl suffering from sores caused by an incurable STD, he said, "She was shattered when I explained to her that she had contracted a disease from this person who told her that she was the only person he had sex with." He added, "It's one thing to see how an STD organism reproduces in the lab; it's another to see how it destroys young people's lives, and, well, you just don't get over seeing that." The cultural left in America is trying to silence those who do not get over seeing the real-life consequences of the sexual revolution. Gloria Feldt and her allies try to inflict damage on any social conservative who gets even minor attention and in that way drive a wedge between moderates and conservatives. It's excellent that in this relatively minor appointment the Bush administration stared down congressional and media liberals. The big battles -- like those involving Supreme Court seats -- are still to come. Those appointees, after all, do more than advise.