Remarks by C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D., Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and
Presented at a Press Conference Sponsored by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
10:30 A.M., January 3, 1989
Peter Lisagor Room, National Press Club
(Greetings to Hosts, Guests, Friends, Etc.)
I'm delighted to be here with Dr. Klein at this important press conference.
Three years ago, I held a "Surgeon General's Workshop on Violence and Public Health" and I was fortunate to have
Dr. Luella Klein take charge of the sessions on spouse abuse.
She was then -- and she remains today -- a valued colleague and a strong ally in our national public health campaign to eliminate
violence from the homes of America.
Of the many recommendations that came from the workshop, two were directed squarely at us:
One recommendation urged the Surgeon General to do whatever he could to inform the American people of the epidemic of violence
that infects over a million homes every year.
And the second, more specific recommendation urged the medical profession -- and obstetricians and gynecologists in particular
-- to do whatever they could do to stop the violence against women, pregnant women, and infants.
Today, Dr. Klein and I -- and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the U.S. Public Health Service --
are keeping faith with the people who attended the workshop . . . And we're also keeping faith with the women of America.
They are a population at risk, I'm sorry to report. As many as 15 million adult women have been victims of battering,
rape, and other forms of physical and sexual assault. Each year, a million or more women are added to that total.
It's an overwhelming moral, economic, and public health burden that our society can no longer bear. In this country,
no man has a license to beat . . . and get away with it. And no woman is obliged to accept the beating . . . And suffer because
Help is available from law-enforcement and the courts . . . From community and social service organizations, such as local
and state alliances against domestic violence . . . And from medicine, as we will learn again today from the American College
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
This, then, is my message to the women and men of America:
We say we are in a civilized society. All right, let's act like one, and let's stop the violence in our families.
Let's end the battering of the women of this country.