Abortion, at least, was a platform on which President Reagan and Koop seemed to think as one. So when Reagan asked Koop to prepare a report on the psychological effects of abortion, conservatives finally felt certain of the result. After all, this was the man who had compared abortion to the killing of Jews at Auschwitz. Koop took to the road and met with hundreds of activists on both sides of the issue and reviewed hundreds of scientific publications. Then, for a while, there was silence. One day a member of his staff called me and said that Koop had decided to issue no report.
“Huh?” I said. “How can that be?” Simple, I was told. Koop was unable to say whether, with any scientific certainty, an abortion was always more damaging than the alternative. He refused to issue the report, because, as he told the President, there weren’t enough data to support either “the preconceived notions of those pro life or those pro choice.” The Administration, once again, was shocked.
– From a short post by Michael Specter, writing for the New Yorker, in regards to the recent passing of C. Everett Koop, Ronald Reagan’s controversial Surgeon General. Known for his conservative views, particularly on abortion, the right rejoiced when he was appointed to his post in 1982, only to end up considering him a traitor as Koop repeatedly placed his faith in – and acted on behalf of – science, rather than ideology. I felt this excerpt was important to note because it seems such a rare moment when an strong ideologue, of either party, sets aside personal partisanship and chooses to represent the facts over his belief, the truth over what is expected – particularly in this situation, when so much could have been gained, politically, had Koop put out the report his party wanted.