Opinion | Should Candidates Be Transparent About Their Health? – The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Candidates Must Disclose Medical Issues,” by Lawrence K. Altman (Opinion guest essay, Sept. 30):

Dr. Altman correctly calls for the full disclosure of medical issues by major candidates, especially presidential. He has championed this cause for years, but his voice has gone unheeded.

The most famous candidate health cover-up was J.F.K.’s adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease. But John McCain’s recurrent melanoma, Bill Bradley’s atrial fibrillation, Joe Biden’s cerebral aneurysm in his 1988 campaign and Bernie Sanders’s significant coronary disease requiring a stent were all either downplayed or denied.

The most egregious example of health misrepresentation was in 1992, when Paul Tsongas and his physicians declared he was cured of his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was not. If he had been elected president rather than Bill Clinton, he would have required ongoing cancer treatments while in office, which would have compromised his ability to fulfill his duties. He died on Jan. 18, 1997.

With the likelihood of one or more candidates over 75 running for president in 2024, the case for full medical disclosure is more compelling than ever. The country would be well served to remember the advice given by William Safire in 1987, when he wrote, “The president’s body is not wholly his own; that is why we go to such lengths to protect it.”

Kevin R. Loughlin
The writer is a retired urologic surgeon and a professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School.

To the Editor:

I would like to respectfully disagree that candidates owe their voters full medical transparency. Confidentiality of medical records exists for good reason, and to throw it away — citing confusion over John Fetterman’s health in the Pennsylvania Senate campaign — is the wrong approach.

For example: Does a female candidate owe it to voters to reveal whether she has ever had an abortion? Some would argue yes, she should. I would argue that it’s none of the voters’ business.

What else should a candidate reveal? Therapist’s notes? Past substance use?

A real-life …….

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/16/opinion/letters/candidates-health.html

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