Family Planning Farce -- Editorial from 11/24/06 NYTimes
It sounds like a late-night parody of President Bush’s bad habit of filling key posts with extreme ideologues and incompetents. To head family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Bush has tapped Eric Keroack, a doctor affiliated with a group vehemently opposed to birth control and someone nationally known for his wacky theory about reproductive health.
Before his appointment, Dr. Keroack served as the medical director of A Woman’s Concern, a network of pregnancy counseling clinics across Massachusetts whose method of trying to dissuade women from having an abortion includes spreading the scary and medically inaccurate myth that having an abortion steeply increases the risk of breast cancer. The group also has a policy against dispensing contraception even to married women. It has stated on its Web site that the distribution of contraceptive drugs or devices is “demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness.” Dr. Keroack now claims that he disagrees with these approaches, a repositioning that seems very belated.
When speaking at abstinence conferences across the country, and in his writings, Dr. Keroack has promoted the novel argument that sex with multiple partners alters brain chemistry in a way that makes it harder for women to form bonding relationships. One of the researchers cited by Dr. Keroack has called the claim “complete pseudoscience” unsupported by her findings.
Armed with these credentials, Dr. Keroack has been drafted to lead the federal office that finances birth control, pregnancy tests, breast cancer screening and other critical health care services for five million poor people annually, and to advise Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt on family planning issues.
Americans who were expecting a more moderate administration in the wake of this month’s elections may find all this shocking. But to the unchastened Bush White House, apparent opposition to contraceptives, abortion and science was the opposite of disqualifying. It was a winning trifecta.