The loss of Roe complicates Biden’s plan for safer pregnancies

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

August 26, 2022

Climate change, deficit reduction and Medicare reform were the headline achievements of President Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act which the president has called “one of the most significant laws in our history.” … Passage of this law now brings renewed hope to Biden’s broader legislative agenda, especially in the field of public health. Part of that push involves an effort by the administration to tackle an issue that for years has disproportionately affected women, especially those of color: maternal mortality. Biden should be commended for focusing energy and federal resources to address it — but timing is everything, as they say, and Biden’s attempt to improve maternal health in America could not have come at a worse moment.

Monkeypox: Have we learned nothing from AIDS or COVID?

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 27, 2022

This weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern.” That’s a rare designation from the WHO, one they’ve reserved to describe just two other diseases — COVID-19 and polio. Yet once again, the nation seems blissfully ignorant to the early warning signs of an outbreak that bears striking resemblance to the start of COVID-19 and the AIDS epidemic. …

If COVID-19 proved anything it showed that a piecemeal response to a global health crisis is a recipe for disaster. We need our elected leaders to step forward, declare monkeypox a national emergency, and announce a coordinated approach to confront it. We need more vaccines, more testing centers, more education and more funding. If we don’t act now, we’ll simply repeat the mistakes of the past. 

The domino effect of overturning Roe goes well beyond abortion

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

July 13, 2022

The ripple effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s move to overturn Roe v. Wade are still being understood as the availability of abortion-related services diminishes rapidly across the country. One of many potential consequences of the court’s decision involves the health of all women, pregnant or not, who reside in nearly half the states that have either banned or significantly limited abortion rights or have similar laws in motion.  

Will an increasing number of medical professionals choose to work in pro-choice states, and cause a decline in the accessibility of medical authorities in states where abortion rights are restricted? As OB-GYNs consider moving across state lines, what impact would their departure have on the availability of general women’s health care in the communities they leave behind? 

How Uvalde broke a three-decade stalemate on gun reform

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

June 17, 2022

The U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan deal to improve gun safety last weekend, representing the most meaningful legislative effort in over 30 years to curb the rising scourge of gun violence in America. The plan’s provisions won’t solve the nation’s gun problem. But it’s an important step in the right direction. …

There’s no reason one plant closure should spark a baby formula crisis

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

May 25, 2022

The Biden administration is pulling every lever to expedite the delivery of baby formula across America. Invoking the Defense Production Act and sourcing supplies overseas through its “Operation Fly Formula” initiative will hopefully bring cans to store shelves over the next few weeks. For worried families, it can’t happen fast enough.  

But there’s the troubling fact that got us here: How could the closure of a single production plant trigger a national public health crisis and throw the entire food supply for millions of American infants into total chaos? And what’s being done to make sure it never happens again? …

Longer-term competition must be fortified so that the closure of one plant doesn’t put us in this same predicament again. At a minimum, we must have contingency plans in place to ensure ready food supplies exist so that American children are not at risk of dying from either unsafe manufacturing or faults in the supply chain. 

The Ukrainian refugee trafficking crisis demands US intervention

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

May 12, 2022

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently told reporters Ukraine can win the war “if they have the right equipment, [and] the right support.” From a military standpoint, the U.S. is stepping up, allocating billions in aid to help the country fight the Russian invasion.  

But there’s another war happening in the region that has been largely ignored, one that First Lady Jill Biden witnessed this weekend — a war on women and children. Visiting a school on Mother’s Day with Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, Biden listened as mothers spoke about the hardships they’ve endured. 

The Biden administration is providing humanitarian assistance, but there has been little focus on one danger women and children face as they flee armed conflict in search of safety: the very real threat of being trafficked. 

Americans want to legalize marijuana – their senators don’t

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

April 20, 2022

Forty years ago, President Reagan famously referred to marijuana as “probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.” Two weeks ago, the U.S. House voted to legalize it, marking the latest chapter in how elected officials have evolved on the issue in recent decades.

Except in the U.S. Senate, that is, where the wall calendars haven’t flipped since 1981 and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act is expected to stall. The Senate version hasn’t even been introduced and is already facing stiff resistance from the GOP and fellow Democrats alike, further delaying progress to remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances.  …

As a growing number of states legalize recreational marijuana it seems odd so many of our elected leaders continue to oppose it. Voters have moved on. The Senate should, too.

Ukrainian Refugees Need More Than Money From US

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


March 14, 2022

In a rare display of bipartisanship last week, U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement on a government spending bill that will include $4 billion in humanitarian aid to help the two million people who have fled Ukraine from the Russian invasion. It’s a start, but over the long haul, these refugees will need far more from the United States to rebuild their lives. 

After Breyer’s exit, we need another public health pragmatist for SCOTUS

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

February 18, 2022

Justice Breyer was a level-headed pragmatist — one who delivered sober, reasonable decisions on matters with major public health implications. He wrote the majority opinion when the court rejected the Republican effort to challenge the Affordable Care Act. And he opposed ending the COVID-19 moratorium on landlord evictions imposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, claiming established court procedures weren’t being followed. … We deserve a nominee with the same conviction to protect public health, the same passion to rise above the political fray to restore trust in the court, and the same respect for the rule of law as Breyer. If she embodies these qualities, perhaps her example will set a new standard for her colleagues to follow.

Let’s stop saying ‘breakthrough cases’ – it isn’t helping

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland


Throughout the pandemic, public health experts have communicated critical COVID-19 guidance to the American people in ways that are confounding — and sometimes contradictory. Examples of mixed messages by public health officials since the start of the pandemic are plentiful. From mask practices to back-to-school recommendations to booster shots, confusion and ambiguity have circulated, creating uncertainty at times as to what people can do to stay safe. …

By trumpeting the term “breakthrough cases,” public health authorities are spreading the impression that these infections are novel, unique and unanticipated by the scientific community. In fact, the vaccine was designed precisely with this likelihood in mind, and it is working exactly as intended. …

For leaders to lead, they need people to trust them. To build trust in the vaccine, public health officials need to be clear in how it works. They need to state that though infections can still occur, even after receiving boosters, symptoms will be mild for most Americans — and that such infections are part of the calculus in getting the vaccine, not a reason to question its efficacy. They must avoid and openly challenge terms that reaffirm preconceived beliefs, not perpetuate them in the public discourse.