PZ and others have already blogged about this, but since it deals with public health in a big way, I thought I’d give it a mention here as well. Seems Bush has made yet another highly questionable appointment in the Department of Health and Human Services. Shocking, I know.
The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as “demeaning to women.”
More after the jump…
Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman’s Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday.
Keroack, an obstetrician-gynecologist, will advise Secretary Mike Leavitt on matters such as reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy. He will oversee $283 million in annual family-planning grants that, according to HHS, are “designed to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons.”
Certainly no conflict between “contraceptives are demeaning to women” and “providing access to contraceptive supplies” to millions of families, eh? Yet another excellent choice, Mr. Bush.
Not surprisingly, activists are ticked.
Marilyn Keefe, interim president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which represents 4,000 family-planning clinics, said Keroack’s work “seems to really be geared toward furthering anti-choice, anti-contraception policies.” She added that despite the congressional election results, the appointment “goes to show you the importance of controlling the White House and how important federal agencies are in the delivery of health services.”
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called Keroack’s appointment “striking proof that the Bush administration remains dramatically out of step with the nation’s priorities.”
And remember, back in the day, all those promises of working together with Democrats, extending hands across the aisle, yada yada yada? Obviously he’s not letting the results of the mid-term election send him back in toward that lofty–but of course never obtained–promise:
Taken together, Keroack’s appointment, the Bolton push and the judicial renominations suggest that although Bush may work for consensus with Democrats on selected issues, he does not plan to avoid decisions simply because lawmakers will disagree, and he may in fact seek fights in some instances when he feels they may be useful politically.
Confirmation of Bolton and the judicial nominees are popular causes with Bush’s conservative base, and a family-planning chief from an organization that opposes contraceptives may appeal to disaffected social conservatives.
White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino…added: “The president has said we will look to reach common ground where we can find it. However, he’s not going to compromise on his principles.”
The Republican War on Science strikes again. And as PZ noted, it’s even worse than the Washington Post article makes it appear, as Keroack has made statements to abstinence groups suggesting that too much sex prevents bonding in relationships. Just who we need to influence policy regarding sex and contraceptives…