DHHS Under Fire for Sex Bias in Screening Guidelines
WASHINGTON / August 3, 2011 – Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, a victim-advocacy organization, is charging bias in the screening guidelines recently issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The guidelines will require health plans recognized under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to conduct domestic violence screening and counseling for women…but not for men.
The HHS rule was issued exactly three weeks after Catherine Becker of California drugged and bound her husband to a bed. Then she severed the man’s genitalia with a 10-inch knife and disposed of his penis in a garbage disposal.
When the rules were announced, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained, “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature.”
But independent scientific groups have consistently recommended against routine medical screening for domestic violence, citing lack of evidence of benefit. These include decisions by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, and the Health Technology Assessment Program in the United Kingdom.
“Over 250 studies show women are at least as likely as men to engage in partner violence,” explains SAVE spokesman Philip Cook. “If Catherine Becker’s husband had been screened for abusive relationships, it’s possible this horrible castration could have been avoided.”
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments is calling for the HHS screening rule to be removed or revised to be gender-inclusive. The HHS requirements can be seen here: http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines