August 31, 2005
Last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration put off a long-awaited decision on whether to sell emergency contraception without a prescription, saying the pill was safe to sell over-the-counter to adults but grappling with how to keep it out of the hands of young teenagers. Today, one of the FDA’s leading advocates for women’s health quit in protest:
American women lost an advocate for women’s health and scientific integrity as Susan F. Wood, Ph.D., Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health and Director, Office of Women’s Health announced her resignation today.
… Ms. Wood sent the following correspondence today to her colleagues and women’s health advocates:“Dear Friends and Colleagues,I regret to tell you that I am leaving the FDA, and will no longer be serving as the Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health and Director of the FDA Office of Women’s Health. The recent decision announced by the Commissioner about emergency contraception, which continues to limit women’s access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women’s health. I have spent the last 15 years working to ensure that science informs good health policy decisions. 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 overruled. I therefore have submitted my resignation effective today.I will greatly miss working with such an outstanding group of scientists, clinicians and support staff. FDA’s staff is of the highest caliber and it has been a privilege to work with you all. I hope to have future opportunities to work with you in a different capacity.”
While Wood’s resignation may help call attention to the fact that the FDA has caved to the wingnuts, it also hands conservatives a major victory. Inside the FDA, Wood could make a difference. Outside, she’ll likely have much less impact.
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