The Food and Drug Administration has decided that silicone breast implants aren’t unsafe after all (the FDA ordered them withdrawn from the market in 1992, pending further study). That was the right decision — and it was about time. I’ll quote Virginia Postrel’s comments on the implant controversy back in ’96 (hat tip: Second Hand Conjecture via Instapundit):

“There never was any credible evidence linking implants to major diseases. Yet juries made multimillion-dollar awards to women claiming they’d gotten sick from their implants, and the FDA imposed a moratorium on most sales. (Post hoc ergo propter hoc is the first fallacy they teach in logic, but just try getting on a jury if you’ve ever studied logic.) Now we have good evidence that implants don’t cause the maladies for which they’ve been blamed. And the exculpatory studies keep coming; two new ones were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

“On October 22, [1996], that group issued an official statement declaring that ‘studies provide compelling evidence that silicone implants expose patients to no demonstrable additional risk for connective tissue or rheumatic disease. Anecdotal evidence should no longer be used to support this relationship in the courts or by the FDA.’ But neither juries nor the FDA are listening to the experts.

“Exactly one week later, in fact, a jury in Nevada awarded $4.1 million to a woman who claimed she’d gotten immune-system and neurological diseases from her implants. The defendant, Dow Chemical, hadn’t even made the implants; it had just done general studies on silicone for Dow Corning, a joint venture with Corning Glass Works. It’s as though the Simpson jury had convicted Kato Kaelin, Rosa Lopez, and that famous barking dog. Proximity was more important than proof.”

Nonetheless, I decline to vote along with Virginia that silicone implants for cosmetic purposes (as opposed to reconstruction of a breast after surgery) represent a form of human striving for beauty that government regulators are determined to surpress. I don’t get the “beauty” part of having a couple of plastic boulders sewn into your lung region that fall apart in many cases and eventually get so hard that you can’t sleep on your stomach. 

Sure, you can get a job modeling for the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, where the watchword is that cow udders atop an otherwise slender elegant frame look positively smashing. And I guess a lot of men really go for surgically enhanced chestlines (not my husband, thank heavens!). If Jessica Simpson is your idea of gorgeous, you go, girl! — but don’t be surprised if people like me laugh. As I wrote last year, when the FDA had taken a preliminary step in silicone-implant approval — and the National Organization for Women was screaming oppression by male corporate greed-heads:

“[I]f women want to make these sacrifices for beauty — their idiosyncratic idea of beauty, of course — my philosophy is: Go ahead. But don’t blame the male-dominated patriarchal establishment if you don’t like what you get. Remember, sister — you’re powerful, and it’s your choice.”