ACS' Heartburn Over Editorial Lingers

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , April 21, 2011

The board took action only after the fact. The entire edition of the publication that included the editorial was withdrawn. By then, there was outrage all around.

Greenfield has insisted that he meant to be lighthearted. "I accepted responsibility for using scientific material in a light-hearted way to review new biochemical findings in sexuality," Greenfield said in an apology. "These findings show the remarkable way nature has promoted strong bonding between men and women, a gift rather than something demeaning."

Greenfield noted that he wrote the editorial as an "opinion piece written for a monthly throw-away newspaper, not a scientific journal," although his report was supported scientifically. In an email to the Detroit Free Press and some other media, Greenfield defended his comments in the wake of his resignation, saying his intent was mostly "light-hearted comment."

"The reports surrounding my resignation as president-elect of the American College of Surgeons lead readers to conclude that I represent an old-guard generation that represses women in surgery," Greenfield wrote. "Since nothing could be further from the truth. I can no longer remain silent in an attempt to protect the organization."

As some of Greenfield’s supporters have said, over the years he encouraged many women surgeons in their careers. That’s nice. But after reading his Valentine’s Day massacre of prose, you can’t help wonder about his current state of mind about women in our society.

Dr. Colleen Brophy, a professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University, told The New York Times that she was so angered by the Lazar's column and the board’s slow response that she resigned. "I have two teen-age daughters," Brophy told the paper. "What bothered me most was that a member of our leadership could advocate for unprotected sex. Even if he meant it as a joke, the way he wrote it came across as blatant. And it's not even an appropriate joke."

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