The "Discovery" of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Lessons in the Practice of Political Medicine

By Abraham B. Bergman | Go to book overview

14
IMPLEMENTATION: PUSHING ON A ROPE

In my days of innocence, I would have considered Congress's approval of a sought-after law as a momentous event that called for the raising of flags and the blowing of bugles. In my present skeptical state of mind, I view passage of a law as only one step that can either lead forward or backward, depending on how the law is implemented. Seven years passed before there were any beneficial effects from the Flammable Fabrics Act Amendments of 1967. As far as I know, there has never been a decrease in the number of injuries due to power lawn mowers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has provided much work for lawyers and public relations experts but has had only marginal success in making the marketplace safer.

Those of us who were involved in passage of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Act of 1974 strongly felt that our legislative efforts would turn out to be in vain unless we vigorously involved ourselves in implementation. This turned out to be a much tougher job than getting the law passed. When the matter was before Congress, we were dealing with politicians who, whether they are good or bad, are at least accountable to the public. In the implementation phase, we were dealing with a huge bureaucracy, HEW, that did not want the law in the first place, did not request any funds to implement it, and, worst of all, could weave and bob interminably. Let me say once again that the top HEW officials were decent human beings who were not opposed to solution of the SIDS problem. SIDS just ranked too low on their priority lists to receive personal attention. I saw as my first task

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The "Discovery" of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Lessons in the Practice of Political Medicine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Appendixes x
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 1
  • 2 - What is Sids? 8
  • 3 - Disturbing the Peace 18
  • 4 - The Battle Plan 29
  • 5 - The Power of Warren Magnuson 41
  • 6 - Sensitizing Professionals 50
  • 7 - The Mondale Hearings 57
  • 8 - Campaigning on the Local Level 68
  • 9 - Our Nader Report"" 81
  • 10 - The Satisficers 93
  • 11 - House Hearings 101
  • 12 - Senate Hearings: Second Round 107
  • 13 117
  • 14 - Implementation: Pushing on a Rope 124
  • 15 - Keeping the Foundation Afloat 136
  • 16 - Collaborating with Nimh 146
  • 17 - A Dual System for Helping Families 152
  • 18 - The Mobilization Contract 163
  • 19 - Calling the Cops 172
  • Epilogue 184
  • Glossary of Names 197
  • Appendix I 203
  • Appendix II 206
  • Appendix III 209
  • Appendix VI 211
  • Appendix V 214
  • Appendix VI 216
  • Appendix VII 218
  • Appendix VIII 221
  • Index 233
  • About the Author 239
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