Brian Alexander wrote in Glamour:
Dr. Shaber tries hard to separate fact from fiction because, she says, “rumor and hearsay can start to seem real.” In the past, she’d sometimes refer patients to government websites and printed fact sheets, or rely on those outlets to help create her own materials. Not anymore. “As a physician, I can no longer trust government sources,” says Dr. Shaber. She is not a political activist or a conspiracy theorist; in addition to her own practice, she’s Kaiser Permanente’s director of women’s health services for northern California and head of the HMO’s Women’s Health Research Institute.
Yet this decidedly mainstream doctor and administrator says, “I no longer trust FDA decisions or materials generated [by the government]. Ten years ago, I would not have had to scrutinize government information. Now I don’t feel comfortable giving it to my patients.“ [emphasis added]
When medical professionals believe that health information provided by the government cannot be trusted, we should all be worried. The sad fact is that the Christian Right has successfully subverted the missions of both the government and public health care by getting their ideological biases placed ahead of facts, reality, and people’s health. This means that the Christian Right is, quite literally, bad for people’s health — but I don’t think that we’ll be seeing any government health warning stickers for them any time soon.
Glamour has also discovered that blatantly false anticondom information has been incorporated into several federal and state health websites. One, an official Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) site designed for families seeking health information for teens, 4parents.gov, suggests that there is no evidence that condom use reduces the risk of HPV infection and downplays its effectiveness against chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
Similarly, several states, including Louisiana, Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina, have online abstinence programs that link to a site called abstinencedu.com, which warns that HIV might be able to penetrate a latex condom (patently false), that “condoms offer no protection against HPV infection” (not true) and that “there is no scientific evidence that condoms reduce the risk of becoming infected with the other 23 major STDs” (also false). It even claims that “the Federal Drug Administration [sic] allows up to 4 percent of a batch of condoms to be defective before the batch is rejected!” (Actually, the FDA rejects a batch of condoms if even one-tenth that number are defective.)
How do lies like these become official government health information? Both abstinencedu.com and 4parents.gov get some of their information from yet another outfit, called the Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH), which opposes premarital sex and has become a leading provider of the kind of “scientific” data now appearing on government sites. [emphasis added]
In many ways, the Christian Right has created a parallel society — it looks and functions like the real world, but it exists solely to promote their ideological and religious agenda, regardless of the facts or the truth. They have their own publishing houses, their own think tanks, their own medical organizations, everything. By creating perverted facsimiles of reality, it is easier for them to seduce politicians and public organization to work with them while still appearing to be acting in an objective or reasonable manner. We elect the politicians to rule over us, then they take money from the Christian Right to feed all of us misinformation about sex.
In a meta-analysis of abstinence programs published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Dr. Santelli found that such curricula “do not seem to be well designed and have incomplete information, misinformation and questionable information.” And last year, the office of Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) examined the most popular federally funded abstinence-only sex-education programs and found that nearly 70 percent of them include “serious medical or scientific errors.”
Among the wholly inaccurate claims: that up to 10 percent of women become sterile after an abortion and that “premature birth, a major cause of mental retardation, is increased following the abortion of a first pregnancy.” Says Princeton’s Trussell, “It’s an outrage. This is clearly another ideological distortion of what the real evidence shows.” Yet such erroneous facts continue to be taught in public school districts in Montana, California, Washington, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. [emphasis added]
In Lubbock, Texas, for example, girls under 18 have 3 and 4 times the rate of chlamydia as the national average. Guess what sort of sex education program has been put in place in Lubbock public schools? If you guessed abstinence-only, you’d be right. Evidence indicates that being taught only about abstinence and not about contraception or other aspects of sexual health leads to more girls contracting a sexually transmitted disease what puts them at an increased rate of infertility later on.
To date, abortion-breast cancer laws, called “Women’s Right to Know,” have been passed in Texas, Kansas, Montana and Mississippi. Texas State Representative Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) vociferously opposed such a law, pointing to the scientific evidence that abortion does not raise the risk of breast cancer. But, she says, legislators who “pushed this law, supported this law, were terrified by right-wing Christian organizations. Some of my colleagues said, in confidence, ‘I agree with you, but we are told that if we vote with you on this, we are supporting abortion.’ They knew this information was invalid. They were frightened. These folks are afraid of this Christian coalition.” Why?
She says legislators were worried that the groups would mobilize against them in upcoming primaries. Herb Brown, M.D., an ob-gyn and faculty member at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, says these laws “put doctors in a terrible position. You have to show a pamphlet produced by the state to the patient and explain that it is part of the regulation. The conversation I have is that, ‘This is what is written in the pamphlet. I disagree with it ethically and scientifically, but this is what the legislation has forced upon me.’ That’s all I can say… If I want to be consistent with the law, I have to lie.“ [emphasis added]
Politicians can always find reasons to deceive their constituents; what we are seeing here, though, is almost unprecedented: politicians who are being forced to lie even though they don’t want to. Conservative Republicans would be willing to oppose a law they know is wrong and which mandates deceiving the public, but they cannot do so without facing the wrath of those who care more about their religious ideology than reality.
It’s unfortunate that Republicans are put in this position, but I can’t feel too sorry for them because they helped create this Beast and if they had any backbone they’d stand up to their Beast in situations like this where they know unequivocally that it would be right — morally and scientifically — to do so. By going along in order to preserve their seat of power they are in some ways worse than the Beast they have created because at least their Beast is a sincere zealot; they are just pandering to it in order to maintain what little power it allows them.
Who wears the collar now? Who holds the leash?
Christian Nationalism & Dominion Theology:
- Dominionism & Dominion Theology
- Christian Reconstructionism
- Leading Christian Reconstructionists
- Reconstructionism & Christian Right: Common Goals, Beliefs
Christian Right & Abortion: