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Birth Control Opponent Appointed to Chief of Federal Family Planning Department

Anti-choice, anti-birth control advocate Eric Keroack was appointed chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by President Bush yesterday. Dr. Keroack will be in charge of overseeing the distribution of Title X funding, which amounts to $283 million in grants per year, that is “designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons,” according to HHS, the Washington Post reports. Dr. Keroack himself is opposed to contraceptives; the group of “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) of which Keoack is the medical director states on its website that the “crass commercialization and distribution” of contraception is “demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness,” according to the Washington Post. The program Keroack will now head is responsible for supporting 4,600 family planning clinics that help five million people each year.

Keroack, in addition to being medical director of six CPCs that work to dissuade women from choosing to have an abortion, is also on the Medical Advisory Council of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, one of the largest providers of abstinence-only education. He was responsible for determining that abstinence-only education should only mention contraceptive use if emphasizing its failure rates, Alternet reports. Keroack spoke at the Abstinence Clearinghouse’s conference in June on the connection between brain hormones and the ability to form meaningful relationships, saying that promiscuous women will not be able to form long-lasting relationships because they have used up all of their “bonding” hormone on casual sex, according to AlterNet.

The appointment, which did not require Congressional confirmation, has outraged women’s rights advocates. Said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “The appointment of anti-birth control, anti-sex education advocate Dr. Eric Keroack to oversee the nation’s family planning program is striking proof that the Bush administration remains dramatically out of step with the nation’s priorities,” in a press release yesterday.

Keroack’s appointment comes as the Guttmacher Institute released a report yesterday that argued if Title X family planning program funds were doubled, every $1 invested in the program could save the country $3.80 in federal funds by preventing births that would then have to be supported by Medicaid, a net savings of almost $800 million. By preventing unplanned pregnancies through providing contraception and access to information about family planning, the Guttmacher institute estimates that 98,000 abortions could be prevented.

TAKE ACTION Tell DHHS Secretary Michael Leavitt that Eric Keroack is the wrong man for the job

Sources:

Boston Globe 11/17/06; Washington Post 11/17/06; PPFA 11/16/06; AlterNet 11/16/06; Guttmacher Institute 11/16/06; Political Cortex 11/16/06; Abstinence Clearinghouse 6/06, 6/28/06; Crisis: Politics, Culture, and the Church 12/02

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