Bush Appoints Family Planning Chief Who Is Anti-Contraception

Evil Condom. Evil, evil condom…


Reproductive rights advocates this week were outraged to discover that Bush chose Susan Orr, an aggressive abstinence-only proponent, as the new deputy assistant secretary for population affairs (DASPA). The DASPA oversees the nation’s family planning program, known as Title X.

In 2001, Orr enthusiastically supported Bush’s movement to deny health coverage of contraception for federal employees stating, “…fertility is not a disease. It’s not a medical necessity that you have it [contraception].” Follow up questions were referred to the Office of Public Affairs, which reaffirmed her position with, “As she said then, the policy allows freedom of conscience and freedom of choice.”

Later that week Orr wrote a Weekly Standard article to clarify the topic. “It’s not about choice,” she said, “It’s not about health care. It’s about making everyone collaborators with the culture of death.”

So using a condom puts you in bed (so to speak) with the culture of death? The nation suffers a crisis of conscience when federally-purchased health insurance funds the pill for employees? I suppose if women’s bodies are principally baby-machines and sex is exclusively for planned pro-creation, then sure, right on…

Susan Orr is currently in charge of $283 million in annual grants that are intended to provide low-income families with family planning services such as contraception and reproductive counseling and she is openly against birth control and sex ed.

Orr held the post of senior director for marriage and families at the Family Research Council, an agency whose mission statement speaks for itself:

“The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society…formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.”

If you need another clue as to their leanings, check out the issues on their “research” page. Or check out some dirt on the FRC compiled by RH Reality Check.

Orr’s views are further crystallized in her article “Real Women Stay Married”.

Understandably, there has been some backlash over the appointment. Democratic Representative Henry Waxman (CA) responded:

This appointment is absurd. Dr. Orr’s support of unproven abstinence-only programs would in itself raise flags about her commitment to comprehensive family planning for low-income girls and women. But in 2000, Dr. Orr said that requiring insurers to cover family planning supplies and services — a policy that promotes access to contraception in many states and the federal employee health program — is “about making everyone collaborators with the culture of death.” This leaves little doubt about where she has stood on contraception access. […]

I’m no longer surprised by this kind of decision — ideology firmly holds the reins over reproductive health in this White House. But this lack of commitment to comprehensive reproductive health, combined with cramped budgets, is an insult and a disservice to the millions of low-income people who rely on Title X for family planning and preventive health services.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards believes

The appointment of Susan Orr is a nightmare for anyone who believes in birth control and sex ed. There are plenty of qualified, unbiased people who could oversee Title X without pushing an ideological agenda, but we don’t believe Susan Orr is one of them.

This is yet another example of the Bush administration putting politics ahead of women’s health care.

Planned Parenthood has drawn up an online petition to replace Orr. You can sign here.

More resources:

Contraception Foe Named to Contraception Post

Birth Control Foe To Run Office of Family Planning

Abstinence-Only Programs Fail – Official Report

Comments on Report

* On the lighter side — pics of a condom-clothing fashion show in Beijing!


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