INTRINSA–NOT SO FAST…
As brilliantly as usual, Katha Pollitt’s “Subject to Debate” column for June 13 highlights the hypocrisy and healthcare gaps that undermine women’s sexual and reproductive health today, particularly the lack of options for preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections that we can use without a partner’s cooperation. But her discussion of the FDA’s decision to turn down Intrinsa, a testosterone patch for women with low sex desire, missed some important points.
Pollitt correctly wrote that Intrinsa appears to offer some benefit to the narrow group of women studied. But women also need to know about the testosterone patch’s long-term effects, especially as it concerns breast cancer and heart disease. As Pollitt noted, menopause hormone therapy was prescribed to women for decades without understanding how it put their health at risk. What we don’t know about testosterone use, even for the surgically menopausal women in whom it has been tested, is significant. I share Pollitt’s outrage at having David Hager and other self-appointed guardians of women’s morals sitting on FDA advisory committees making decisions about our health. But advocating the approval of drugs whose safety has not been established is not the way to advance women’s self-determination in sexual and reproductive health.
National Women’s Health Network (www.nwhn.org)
WHITE HOUSE WAR ON WOMEN
We were gratified by the amount and the tenor of the mail we received in response to Ayelish McGarvey’s May 30 “Dr. Hager’s Family Values.” Despite its sensitive subject, and despite a smattering of charges that we’d sunk to the level of the supermarket tabloids, the mail–from doctors, abuse counselors, abuse victims and ordinary women and men–was decidedly more positive than negative. A sampling follows. –The Editors
Thank you for the article chronicling Linda Davis’s abuse by her then-husband. As an advocate for battered women for more than fifteen years, I am always fascinated to learn that many people still consider violence against women to be separate from the political sphere. This article illustrates perfectly that what abusers do to the women in their lives, they will do to the rest of us. Unfortunately, too often nobody considers women until their tormentors affect the rest of us. Hats off to you for bringing this to light!
West Lafayette, Ind.
I found the article on Dr. Hager tacky, underdocumented, sensationalist and, most damning, wide of the point. The Nation usually has higher standards. I want to know what this man’s professional history is, not whether he paid his wife for anal sex.