Bush Administration Decides Birth Control Not a Health Care Issue

Washington Post reports on the appointment of Susan Orr:

The Bush administration again has appointed a chief of
family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services
who has been critical of contraception.

Susan Orr, most recently an associate commissioner in the Administration for Children and Families, was appointed Monday to be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings.

In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. "We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease," said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.

The Family Research Council. Why should I be surprised? When they're not sending Charmaine Yoest out to lie about Plan B, or trying to hide where their chief Tony Perkins looks for political support (*cough* David Duke *cough*), they're bashing gays or women's rights.

Yes, fertility is not a disease, but it is a health issue. Most women simply don't want to push out a baby a year for their entire reproductive lifetime. And who can blame them? Some women don't want kids at all, but even those who do often would like the ability to control when they become pregnant.

The motives of the FRC are pretty clear: disempower women, suggest they're bad parents if they don't stay home at the beck and call of the children God sends them, keep them pregnant for 30 years, out of the workplace, and subservient to men. Think I'm kidding? Why the vehement opposition to birth control? It prevents conception - you'd think they'd approve; fewer abortions that way! Why should they oppose contraception if not to tie women down by the uterus? Or to deny them from possessing sexual power equivalent to men?

No word on whether the Bush administration will be pushing to have Viagra removed from federal employees' health care coverage anytime soon.

More like this

Ugh. Wish I could say more.

By sea Creature (not verified) on 17 Oct 2007 #permalink

Brings to mind Monty Python's 'Every Sperm is Sacred'. Maybe Bush wakes up to that song every morning.....

This is ridiculous. What don't these people understand about birth control totally being a health issue? Have they never heard about some women who actually NEED birth control pills to control excessive menstrual bleeding and irregular cycles? It's much more common than one might imagine. Ugh, these people make me sick.

Wtf, why won't this blog accept my posts? I'll try again with no links this time.

It seems that most of you secular people just don't get it. All this fits together if you understand the tradition of Christian thinking about sex and reproduction that has influenced contemporary social mores, though it dates back to St Augustine or even earlier.

In the work of St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas, sex is essentially shameful and degrading, redeemed only by its procreative potential. Thus, any "excessive" pleasure in sex is sinful, even within marriage. Sex that is not potentially procreative - including such acts as masturbation, homosexual sex, but also "ordinary" sex if it involves contraception - is always a serious sin. In fact, Aquinas thought that such "sins" as these were second only to murder in seriousness.

With a tradition like this behind them, of course the members of a fundamentalist administration will not think highly of contraception, which enables sexual pleasure without the redemptive power of procreation. Perhaps no one in the administration would actually argue that way, but this is the tradition that has moulded conservative attitudes to morality, generally after generation.

You have to understand their deep-seated emotional prejudice against sex and the human body, and especially the female body, which runs deep through traditional religious morality. The latter is sicker and nastier than you think.

But once you understand it, you can see that these people are not being inconsistent or irrational by their own lights. It all makes a horrible sense.

Christian moral teachings stand to genuine morality as cancer stands to health.

Wait, wait. Having a very odd moment here.

I mean, I'm not...Luna...above. And I didn't post that. But I could've.

"Fertility is not a disease." Yeuch. Reminds me of the Methodist Church in the town where I grew up -- they refused to let the church secretary use her sick leave when she actually delivered her baby, because "pregnancy is not an illness".

More to the point, unwanted pregnancy IS very much a health issue -- as are all the other things that the pill is used to treat, dysmenorrhea being only one of them; a tendency towards ovarian cysts being another, and endometriosis being another. Gah, these people make me sick.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 19 Oct 2007 #permalink

Russell Blackford - You illustrate another reason why I can never take seriously a group which chooses to dismiss half of its population (females) as unworthy of governing and decision-making positions.

Wayne Sheilds and Rivka Gordon of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals make the point in a column on ScienceProgress.org that Orr's appointment both diminishes the value of scientific integrity and that her position on family planning places undo hardship on those least able to pay for contraception.