Naked City

More HHS Web-Washing?

The conflict continues between U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and the Bush administration over federal Web-washing -- removing from government Internet sites sound scientific info that doesn't jibe with the regime's ideological views. Last month we reported that Waxman and other members of Congress sent a scathing letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson after HHS removed from the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health sites pages discussing safe condom use and the connection (or lack thereof) between abortion and breast cancer. Waxman got a reply from Thompson on Nov. 27, and the purged info was reposted -- with significant alterations. "These new versions distort and suppress scientific information," Waxman wrote in a follow-up letter, sent to HHS on Dec. 18.

According to Thompson, the info was taken down solely for revision because much of it was out of date. Waxman charges that this is hogwash, claiming the latest "revisions" are merely an attempt to censor medical information. For example, he notes, a page titled "Condoms and Their Use in Preventing HIV Infection and Other STDs" no longer explains how to use a condom and no longer includes info about the efficacy of different types of condoms. Further, Waxman notes, HHS purged information about studies showing that teaching teens about condom use in sex education classes does not lead to higher rates of teen sex. "The apparent purpose of these alterations and deletions is to remove information that conflicts with the administration's preference for 'abstinence-only' programs," Waxman wrote.

Waxman also notes that, in reposting a page concerning the connection between abortion and breast cancer, HHS omitted reference to the most recent and comprehensive study done by the National Cancer Institute -- published in the New England Journal of Medicine -- that determined that there is no increased risk of breast cancer for women who've had abortions. Instead, the new "fact sheet" claims that the science is "inconsistent" and that it indicates that "some studies found a significant increase, some a mild increase" in the risk of cancer. In his response, Waxman hardly contained his ire: "This is nothing more than the political creation of scientific uncertainty," he wrote, designed solely to "unnecessarily scare women."

Waxman aide Karen Lightfoot says the congressman is waiting for another response from Thompson and HHS. The full correspondence between Waxman and Thompson is archived at the rep's Web site, www.house.gov/waxman.

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