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Bush should replace Surgeon General, ERLC’s Land says

WASHINGTON (BP)–The United States surgeon general’s report on promoting “responsible sexual behavior” is a flawed approach that demonstrates why there should be a new person in the office, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics agency says.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious
Liberty Commission, said President Bush should remove David Satcher from his office.

“The surgeon general’s report is compelling evidence of the nation’s need for a new surgeon general,” Land said. “The surgeon general’s report is completely wrongheaded and reveals a mind-set that makes him and those who prepared the report a part of the problem and not a part of the solution, and it clearly puts him at odds with the president’s agenda for the family.”

Surgeon General Satcher’s report has received strong rebukes from evangelical and pro-family organizations. Their primary criticisms of “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior” were:

— The report’s refusal to promote sexual abstinence until marriage, instead acknowledging the “benefits of remaining abstinent until involved in a committed, enduring and mutually monogamous relationship.”

— The failure to support abstinence-only programs for young people, saying the small number of studies makes it “too early to draw definite conclusions about this approach.”

— The endorsement of programs that teach abstinence but also provide education on use of condoms and other contraceptives.

— The assertion there is “no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation [including homosexuality] can be changed.”

Family Research Council President Ken Connor called for similar action, describing Satcher as “a Clinton holdover President Bush needs desperately to replace.”

Bush, however, has given no indication he plans to replace Satcher before the surgeon general’s term concludes in February. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said of the report, “The president understands the report was issued by a surgeon general that he did not appoint,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

FRC’s Connor also said in a written release, “Dr. Satcher was right to draw attention to the sex-related health crisis in America. . . . But rather than focus on chastity, abstinence and marriage, the report sends just the sort of confused moral message that is largely responsible for the current mess.”

An 11-member coalition led by Focus on the Family said in a written statement, Satcher’s report, “attempts to legitimize behavior that endangers health and epitomizes irresponsibility.”

In contrast to the critics, two of the organizations that applauded Satcher’s report, were the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Human Rights Campaign. PPFA distributes contraceptives through its affiliates and acts as the country’s largest abortion chain. HRC is the country’s largest homosexual political organization.

The report, which was released June 28, included statistical evidence of the public health problem produced by sexual activity, such as:

— About 45 million people in the United States have genital herpes, and there are one million new cases each year.

— Five of the 10 most commonly reported infectious diseases are sexually transmitted, and sexually transmitted diseases account for 87 percent of the 10 cases.

— Four kinds of human papillomavirus [HPV], a STD, produce about 93 percent of cervical cancer cases, with about 5.5 million new cases of cervical cancer occurring each year.

— More than 774,000 AIDS cases, nearly two-thirds that were sexually transmitted, have been reported since 1981, and about 40,000 new HIV infections take place yearly.

— About 22 percent of women and two percent of men have been raped.

— More than 100,000 children are sexually abused each year.

— Nearly 1.4 million abortions were performed in 1996, and nearly 45 percent of those were obtained by women who previously had at least one abortion.

The 16-page report and Satcher’s introductory letter are available on the Internet at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/sexualhealth.

Eight days after Satcher released his report, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced $17.1 million in new grants to communities for abstinence-only education programs for young people.