Washington Post (10.30.03) - Thursday, October 30, 2003
The Traditional Values Coalition, a public policy organization
that says it represents more than 43,000 member churches,
yesterday said it will ask the Justice Department to
investigate how scores of health and sexuality studies
received federal funding through the National Institutes of
An official at NIH, which is internationally renowned in part
for its peer-review system of evaluating proposals, said the
studies are an important part of devising better public health
and education strategies. But TVC called them "smarmy
projects" representing at least $100 million in wasted federal
funds. TVC's call is the latest volley in its escalating
conflict with NIH and the agency's congressional and
institutional supporters, who see the attack as part of a
larger effort to foist conservative religious values on the
federal scientific enterprise.
"We have nameless, faceless bureaucrats doling out money like
a federal ATM to do things like study the sex habits of
Mexicans before and after they cross over the border. This
doesn't pass the straight-face test," said TVC Executive
Director Andrea Lafferty.
Calling TVC's tactics "scientific McCarthyism," Rep. Henry
Waxman (D-Calif.) has in the past four days sent two angry
letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson
asking him to stand up to TVC and support NIH.
Lafferty yesterday took sole responsibility for compiling and
sending to Congress a list of about 200 NIH projects related
to sexuality, AIDS and risk-taking. Waxman had expressed
suspicion that HHS officials or others in the Bush
administration helped compile or release the list. Yesterday,
in a letter to Waxman, Thompson denied any HHS involvement but
did not address Waxman's request for information on any
meetings or communications between HHS and TVC.
"We can't have moralizing and ideology trump science when it
comes to protecting the public health," warned Alan Leshner,
CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science, the nation's largest general science organization.
"It's vitally important that we understand the processes by
which public health problems spread if we're ever going to get
a handle on issues as important as HIV/AIDS and drug abuse."