November 16, 2006
Jessica Valentini Executive Editor
#Breaking: Bush appoints abstinence-only nut to oversee repro rights funding
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Hold on to your hats. I hear from a little birdie that the Bush administration has hired Dr. Eric Keroack to oversee Title X funding—the only federal program devoted entirely to family planning and reproductive health.
Keroack, who is currently the medical director of a Massachusetts pregnancy crisis center (you know, the folks that lie to women), will be the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs.
Keroack is not only a well-known anti-choicer, he’s also a major proponent of abstinence-only education…and when I say proponent, I mean fucking insane person.
At the Annual Abstinence Leadership Conference in Kansas, Keroack defended abstinence (in an aptly titled talk, "If I Only Had a Brain") by claiming that sex causes people to go through oxytocin withdrawal which in turn prevents people from bonding in relationships. Seriously.
[Keroack] explained that oxytocin is released during positive social interaction, massage, hugs, “trust” encounters, and sexual intercourse. “It promotes bonding by reducing fear and anxiety in social settings, increasing trust and trustworthiness, reducing stress and pain, and decreasing social aggression,” he said.
But apparently if you’ve had sex with too many people you use up all that oxytocin: "People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual.” Hear that? Too many sexual partners and you’ll never love again!
The good doctor has also explained his use of ultrasounds in anti-abortion counseling by stating, “even Midas lets you look at your old muffler before they advise you to change it.”
And this is the guy who is going to have control over hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding meant to provide access to contraception and reproductive health information—specifically to low income Americans.
I'm trying to figure out who the best folks are to contact to oppose this douche--apparently there's no confirmation process for this position, he just shows up to work. On Monday.
Posted by Jessica at 10:39 AM | in Health , Politics , Reproductive Rights
Wednesday 29 November 2006
Demeaning to women
A physician, Erik Keroack, known for peddling bad science gains power over health services for millions.Everybody makes mistakes. Doctors, even excellent ones, are not exempt. But a physician who consistently promotes false data so as to influence patients' gravest personal decisions falls far outside the norm. This month, the Bush administration placed just such a doctor in a position of enormous power to affect the health of 5 million Americans. The choice is absurd and irresponsible.
President Bush appointed Massachusetts obstetrician-gynecologist Erik Keroack to direct family planning programs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Keroack certainly has experience in the field: He was medical director of A Woman's Concern, a chain of crisis pregnancy centers. The organization's Web site calls distribution of birth control "demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness."
To dissuade women from choosing birth control or abortion, the group relies on more than ideology. Under Keroack's direction, the centers burdened women with medical information that was twisted, debunked or brazenly fictitious. Among its erroneous claims, the group asserts that condoms "offer virtually no protection"against herpes or HIV. How many cases of sexually transmitted disease has that dangerous disinformation caused? In fact, as Slate magazine notes, the National Instititutes of Health report that condom users have an "85 percent decrease in risk of HIV transmission."
A Woman's Concern also preaches the egregious falsehood that teenagers who receive abortions "may face an eight times greater risk of contracting breast cancer by age 45." This dangerous propaganda has been debunked repeatedly by medical professionals, most recently by the National Cancer Institute.
Keroack personally takes responsibility for a bizarre, unsubstantiated theory meant to promote abstinence. Citing the body chemistry of a tiny rodent called a prairie vole, Keroack claims that humans who have multiple sex partners develop a neuropeptide deficiency that renders them unable to form long-lasting bonds. Scientists, including one Keroack cites as a reference, call the theory scientifically unsupported.
Keroack now distances himself from the tactics of A Woman's Concern. Perhaps, then, the public could view his past direction of the group's medical curriculum "mistaken." He has not, though, convincingly discarded his hostility to birth control. Given that Keroack's out-of-the-mainstream views are his most distinctive trait, it's fair to guess that the president chose Keroack to appeal to his base rather than to improve women's health.
Keroack's penchant for spreading bad science has won him the power to affect the health of millions of women. He will oversee 4,600 family planning clinics federally mandated to provide family planning counseling, birth control, breast exams and other health services. Bush could hardly have made a more cynical choice. For 5 million American women, Keroack's appointment is a grave medical mistake.