SANTA FE (AP) — The chief medical officer for the state Department of Health said she was asked to resign after giving a television interview in which she advocated condom use to slow the growth of sexually transmitted diseases among teens.
Chief Medical Officer Erin Bouquin said she got an email an hour after the interview aired Thursday on a local news station asking her to meet with department Secretary Catherine Torres.
In that meeting she said she was told she was being asked to leave because she hadn't met the expectations of the governor. But she suspects it was because of the interview.
"On the day I was asked to leave, I said the word condom three times on the news," she told the Santa Fe New Mexican, (
The governor's office and the health department both denied any connection between the interview and the resignation of Bouquin, who had been on the job for just four months and was still considered a probationary employee.
Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez, said in an email statement that "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."
During the interview, it was mentioned that gonorrhea and chlamydia rates were up 50 percent. Asked what message she would like to send teens, Bouquin said, "Condoms are very, very important in controlling sexually transmitted diseases."
Bouquin also noted what she called the "ABCs" — abstinence, be faithful and birth control.
The governor's office says Bouquin's departure was part of a reorganization of the department. Deputy Secretary Wally Vette also resigned Thursday.
Bouquin, however, said the department is becoming more political. She said it recently applied for Title V federal funding that stresses abstinence-based sex education and that others in the department were concerned about a return to that policy.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.