Birth-control opponent a terrible choice to head Population Affairs
George Bush continues his assault on women, replacing science with ideology in his key health care appointments. The president just appointed anti-birth control, anti-sex education hard-liner Susan Orr as the new acting deputy assistant secretary for Population Affairs. She will oversee Title X, the federal program that provides contraception, pap smears, breast exams, sexually transmitted infection testing/treatment and comprehensive sex education. Title X provides family planning services to more than 5 million low-income individuals (16,000 in Hawaii) and prevents 1 million unintended pregnancies annually.
Orr opposes contraception and medically accurate sex education, yet she is appointed to oversee the nation's family-planning program! This appointment should be withdrawn and replaced with an individual who supports scientifically accurate policies, birth control and medically accurate sexuality education.
Orr was a senior director at the Family Research Council, which opposes access to family planning and comprehensive sex education. She cheered the Bush administration's proposed elimination of contraceptive coverage from federal employees' health insurance, saying, "We're quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have (contraception)."
She has a history of advocating policies that cut women off from reproductive health care services and is a proponent of abstinence-only sex education programs that deny teenagers medically accurate information about birth control and sexually transmitted infections. Orr held a senior position in the Department of Health and Human Services under the Bush administration's point person for abstinence-only education and is on the board of directors of a nonprofit that is opposed to comprehensive sex education.
The federal government spent $176 million this year on unproven abstinence-only programs, despite the public's overwhelming support for comprehensive sex education that includes information about abstinence and contraception. Our teenagers need honest, accurate information to help them postpone sexual activity and protect themselves if they become sexually active. It is irresponsible to withhold information that can protect them from unintended pregnancy or disease.
Earlier this year, Bush appointed Eric Keroack, another anti-birth control extremist who believes birth control is "demeaning to women." Planned Parenthood, along with 126 members of Congress, nearly 30 media outlets and 111,000 activists, demanded that Keroack be removed from this position. He stepped down this year amid Medicaid fraud allegations.
Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified a few months ago, before a House Committee on Government Reform, about being consistently muzzled by the Bush administration and unable to adequately educate the public or express his scientific views on emergency contraception and abstinence-only education. Isn't it sad that the president continues his war on the very items that reduce abortion -- easy access to contraceptives and medically accurate, age-appropriate sexuality education to our teenagers?
Barry Raff is CEO of Planned Parenthood of Hawaii.