Considerations Beyond Science

The committee's charge was to examine the meaningfulness of potential results from the WHI in terms of rationale, study design and methods, cost, and overall justification. However, the committee was constantly faced with broader considerations. Colleagues, advocacy organizations, executive and legislative branch representatives, all approached the committee with reasons why the WHI should proceed, and why canceling it would unleash disasters. If it is cancelled, some argued, no one would ever trust the government again; it would prove that the government does not really care about women's health; it would so greatly disappoint the community which has gathered around this project that it will be impossible to ever galvanize them again; it would be seen as an unwelcome political blow to those in Congress who have pressed for more women's health research.

Others argued that it would be wrong and harmful to women's health to spend $625 million and find after 14 years that little in the way of useful information had been learned. It would not help women's health and women's health research to publicly announce and then misuse an enormous amount of money.

The committee tried to keep these considerations out of its judgment on the merits of the science, but they are important issues. With the committee recommendation that the WHI could proceed—though with significant changes of duration and focus—the discussion of these issues should continue.

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