Today’s women’s health policy report published by Kaiser Network has a terrific round-up of newspaper editorial and opinion pieces responding to the appointment of Dr. Eric Keroack, the new deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the department of Health and Human Services.
Keroack, as you may recall, was previously the medical director for a pregnancy counseling center that opposes contraception (and isn’t even board certified), yet in his new role he “will advise HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on issues including reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy, and he will administer $283 million in annual family planning grants that HHS says are ‘designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons’,” reports Kaiser.
HHS is defending Keroack’s credentials, according to CQ Health Beat (subscription only). From Kaiser:
Christina Pearson, spokesperson for HHS’ Office of Population Affairs and Administration for Children and Families, said Keroack is not opposed to birth control, adding that he prescribed contraceptives as a physician in private practice (Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, 11/22). Keroack “has expressed to us that he will fulfill his programmatic responsibilities in accordance with the law, and we believe him,” Pearson said, adding that Keroack’s work for A Women’s Concern accounted for only 20% of his time and involved providing ultrasound examinations to pregnant women and not counseling to women who were not pregnant (CQ HealthBeat, 11/26).
Feel better now? I didn’t think so.
Editorial writers at 11 newspapers — ranging from The New York Times to the Tuscaloosa News — aren’t impressed, either.
What’s truly astounding is the Bush administration’s refusal to acknowledge that easy access to contraception and comprehensive sex education is absolutely necessary if the administration is serious about wanting to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. Anything less than total support for family planning services makes a mockery of public policy goals — and is a strike against the health and well-being of women.