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- Handguns are a public health issue.
- How do you get rid of the trash? It's out there in society, it's going on every day […] You can educate children an awful lot easier than you can get rid of the trash.
- Sipchen, Bob (July 3, 1997). "Straight Talk From a Straight Shooter Journeys: Joycelyn Elders was known for her outspokenness during her run". Los Angeles Times: p. E-1. Retrieved on 2007-05-20.
- We've tried ignorance for a thousand years. It's time we try education.
- As long as I was in Washington I never met anybody that I thought was good enough, who knew enough, or who loved enough to make sexual decisions for anybody else.
- If men went through menopause, we'd know everything about it, but we still don't even know if we should be taking hormones.
- We must stop this love affair with the fetus.
- I want every child that's born in the world to be planned and wanted.
- If you can't control your reproduction, you can't control your life.
- I'm against abstinence programs because I really consider "abstinence only" child abuse.
- Condoms will break, but I can assure you that vows of abstinence will break more easily than condoms.
- They are boycotting common sense.
- We know that more than 70 to 80% of women masturbate, and 90% of men masturbate, and the rest lie.
- If you say children wouldn't know anything about masturbation on their own, you've never changed a little boy's diaper.
Quotes about Joycelyn Elders
- I heard on the way over here, by the way, that they've come up with a new nominee for surgeon general: Pee-Wee Herman, is....You don't think that would have happened if it weren't for the fact that you were all elected do you? This is a sensitive subject and I am not gonna mention it because she got canned for it, but I'll tell ya, she said much worse than this. And she said far stupider things, like “The way to combat crime is with safer bullets, with safer guns.”
- Rush Limbaugh, Address to Incoming House GOP Freshmen delivered 10 December 1994, Baltimore, MD
- I certainly agree with the suggestion made by the former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders that a public dialogue on the decriminalization of drugs is absolutely necessary. As it stands today, people are punished because they have done harm to themselves. The "crime problem" can only be addressed ultimately by the eradication of poverty, by the eradication of the circumstances that lead people to commit the kinds of crimes for which most are sent to prison.
- 1998 interview in Conversations with Angela Davis Edited by Sharon Lynette Jones (2021)