May 24, 2012 — The chief medical officer for New Mexico's Department of Health says she was asked to resign after she advocated condom use to lower rates of sexually transmitted infections among teens during a television interview, AP/NECN reports (AP/NECN, 5/23).
The interview in part addressed the fact that gonorrhea and chlamydia rates among teens in the state increased by 50% last year. When asked by the interviewer what message she would want to send teenagers about STIs, CMO Erin Bouquin said, "Use condoms. Condoms are very very important in controlling sexually transmitted diseases." She also noted the importance of abstinence, being faithful and using birth control (Haywood, Santa Fe New Mexican, 5/21).
Bouquin said she was sent an email an hour after the interview aired asking her to meet with Health Secretary Catherine Torres. During that meeting Bouquin said she was told she was being asked to leave because she had not met the governor's expectations (AP/NECN, 5/22). Bouquin said she believes the interview was the reason, noting that Gov. Susana Martinez (R) supports abstinence-based sex education and the health department recently applied for Title V federal funding to support abstinence-based sex education efforts.
Scott Darnell, a spokesperson for the governor, said Martinez had nothing to do with Bouquin's resignation. "We're aware that the department recently re-organized several upper management positions including the chief medical officer position," Darnell said, adding, "The Governor is a proponent of taking a balanced and multi-pronged approach to controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; there is nothing in Dr. Bouquin's interview that would conflict with that approach" (Santa Fe New Mexican, 5/21).
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