Magazine article The American Prospect

No Sweat, Doctor

Magazine article The American Prospect

No Sweat, Doctor

Article excerpt

JUST HOW CRAVEN A panderer is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist? Consider the following: The office of Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman released a report early in December analyzing 13 curricula for abstinence-only education programs currently receiving federal funding. Most of these programs are backed by the religious right and are intended to bring back that idyllic era of sexual ignorance and misinformation in which American youth flourished before Alfred Kinsey ruined everything. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the report found that 11 of the 13 curricula contained significant scientific errors and fallacious use of medical data. One curriculum claimed that condoms often do not reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Another hyped a phony connection between chlamydia and heart disease. A third claimed that HIV/AIDS could be transmitted through sweat and tears.

A few days after the report's release, the good doctor Frist--a real-deal, Harvard-educated M.D.--appeared on ABC's This Week. Host George Stephanopoulos brought up the report and said to Frist, half in jest, "Now, you're a doctor. Do you believe that tears and sweat can transmit HIV?"

But it turned out this was a trickier question than Stephanopoulos realized. "I don't know," Frist replied, obviously reluctant to question the scientific veracity of educational literature put out by elements of the GOP's evangelical base. A startled Stephanopoulos repeated his question, giving Frist the chance to offer a second opinion. …

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