I recently read this at Pharyngula but I think I heard it somewhere else first. This is so offensive on so many levels. According to a story on NPR, there is a nasal spray that can reverse a heroin overdose. If I understand the story correctly, the spray, Narcan, is distributed to addicts through channels like those used for needle exchange. And if there’s one thing the Culture of Life hates, it’s saving the lives of anyone who is already born:

Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan in overdose-rescue programs…

…she says, Narcan kits may actually encourage drug abusers to keep using heroin because they know overdosing isn’t as likely.

…”Sometimes having an overdose, being in an emergency room, having that contact with a health care professional is enough to make a person snap into the reality of the situation and snap into having someone give them services,” Madras says.


I see, so instead of approving of a tool that may help SAVE LIVES of people who are overdosing, this “doctor” would prefer that drug addicts continue to overdose, and maybe they will be lucky enough to not die, but will have a really close call, and will meet a compassionate person in the ER who gets them into treatment?

Has your head exploded yet?

Consider the cost of an ambulance ride and an ER visit versus the sub-$10 cost of this Narcan kit. Consider also that it’s not yet known, though it’s quite researchable, whether saving people from an overdose does dissuade them from seeking treatment. Consider also its effectiveness so far, according to the NPR article:

New data compiled for NPR by researcher Alex Kral of the consulting firm RTI International show that more than 2,600 overdoses have been reversed in 16 programs operating across the nation.

Kral estimates that is at least 75 percent of all the reversals that have occurred so far among several dozen U.S. programs, many of which are new.

John Gatto, executive director of the Cambridge program, says such dramatic results are unusual in the world of substance abuse treatment and prevention.

And then consider: what if research conclusively demonstrated that Narcan doesn’t dissuade addicts from seeking treatment? Would Dr. Madras and her buddies say anything different? Sadly I doubt it, because theory trumps reality for socially conservative chuckleheads like her.

You may remember this warped and disgusting logic from such past hits as “teenage girls need more cervical cancer”:

Conservative groups say they welcome the [HPV] vaccine as an important public health tool but oppose making it mandatory.

“Some people have raised the issue of whether this vaccine may be sending an overall message to teenagers that, ‘We expect you to be sexually active,’ ” said Reginald Finger, a doctor trained in public health who served as a medical analyst for Focus on the Family before being appointed to the ACIP in 2003, in a telephone interview.


Cancer. Death. It’s nothing more than what people deserve for their bad behavior. Why try to prevent them?