C. Everett Koop dies

C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General under President Reagan, has died at age 96.  The mainstream obituaries are hailing his work to battle smoking and the AIDS epidemic.  But he was also a devout Christian and a crusader against abortion.  Koop  collaborated with  Francis Schaeffer on the book and video series Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, a work that helped mobilize Christians for the pro-life cause.

C. Everett Koop '37


From Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop dies at age 96 – CNN.com:

Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, a pediatric surgeon turned public health advocate, died Monday. He was 96.

Koop served as surgeon general from 1982 to 1989, under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

He was outspoken on controversial public health issues and did much to raise the profile the office of the surgeon general.

He died peacefully at his home in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College said in a news release announcing his death.

“Dr. Koop did more than take care of his individual patients — he taught all of us about critical health issues that affect our larger society,” said Dartmouth President Carol L. Folt. “Through that knowledge, he empowered each of us to improve our own well-being and quality of life. Dr. Koop’s commitment to education allowed him to do something most physicians can only dream of: improving the health of millions of people worldwide.”

Koop, called “Chick” by his friends, was perhaps best known for his work around HIV/AIDS. He wrote a brochure about the disease that was sent to 107 million households in the United States in 1988. It was the largest public health mailing ever, according to a biography of Koop on a website of the surgeon general.

He was also well-known for his work around tobacco, calling for a “smoke-free” society. His 1986 surgeon general’s report on the dangers of secondhand smoke was seminal.

“That was the shot heard around the world, and it began to change public policy everywhere,” said John Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society.

The report started the move toward prohibiting smoking on airplanes, restaurants and at workplaces.

“The legacy of C. Everett Koop is how a wonderful, famous pediatric surgeon, who’d already made a name for himself, was willing at a relatively advanced age to do public service and show bold leadership that would have dramatic impact and change the world,” Seffrin said.

Prior to his tenure as surgeon general, Koop was surgeon-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was a pioneer in the field of pediatric surgery and helped to establish the country’s first neonatal intensive care nursery. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Dartmouth said.

Koop was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Dartmouth, Weill Cornell Medical College and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

He was the author of more than 200 articles and books and the recipient of various awards. In 1991, Koop won an Emmy for a five-part series on health care reform, Dartmouth said. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.

Again, this says nothing about his faith or his pro-life influence.  I actually met him, finding myself sitting with him at a banquet.  He projected the bedside manner of a trusted family doctor and played that role for the whole nation.



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  • Pete

    A great man, a giant – truly a pioneer in the field of pediatric surgery. To this day, I can recall his lecture to our med school class on the treatment of Wilms Tumors and neuroblastomas in children and how one of his surgical instruments of choice was a sterilized soup spoon.

  • C-Christian Soldier

    Thank you C.E.Coop for standing strong for the lives of the un-born Human!!
    I know where you are now and that you will rest in peace~~~~
    LA Lutherans for Life

  • Grace

    I wish there were more men like U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

    February 25, 2013

    Died: C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General Who Taught Evangelicals To Hate Abortion
    (UPDATED) Koop brought abortion into the social conscience of American evangelicals.

    “C. Everett Koop, the Christian physician and former U.S. Surgeon General who brought abortion to the forefront of evangelical social action, died today at 96.
    Together with theologian Francis Schaeffer (they met when Koop operated on Schaeffer’s daughter), Koop—a pioneering pediatric surgeon—exposed the issues of abortion and euthanasia in a series of films and books in the early 1980s. Their arguments began the movement against abortion that continues within American evangelicalism today.


    “Koop continued to speak out on abortion as recently as 2009, when he wrote and hand-delivered a letter to Congress to voice his opposition to proposed federal funding for the procedure.


  • Grace

    Dr. Veith,

    Thank you for posting this tribute. Those who have stood against abortion, and strived to serve God, in the face of much opposition, are rare.

    God bless and keep his family. They have much to be grateful for.

  • Richard

    Dr. Koop was for many years a ruling elder at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia who worked with Revs. Barnhouse, Boice, and Philip Ryken. He was an inspiring example in his vocations and his service to our Lord. And he got it exactly right in his service to his country as Surgeon General, knowing who his neighbor was in his vocation, which frequently upset those both on the Right and Left. Will miss him.

  • May God rest his soul. I’ve read excerpts from his “Human Race” book with Schaeffer, and it’s quite poignant.

  • Rose

    In 1982, the country needed Koop. The AIDS lobby was adamant that blood donors not be questioned about their HIV/AIDS status. They were politically successful in blocking testing of the blood supply. Hence Ryan White’s infection in 1984. He was their case for “Anyone can get HIV/AIDS”.