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A bigot takes over family planning

By Elizabeth Schulte | December 15, 2006 | Page 2

RABIDLY ANTI-abortion. Proponent of "abstinence-only" sex education. Opponent of all contraception. These are the credentials of the Bush administration's choice to oversee family planning for the nation's poor.

Last week, George W. Bush named a Massachusetts doctor, Eric Keroack, as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. When he takes the post--his appointment doesn't need Senate confirmation--Keroack will be responsible for the Title X family-planning program, which provides health services to more than 5 million poor women in the U.S.

Title X is federally mandated to provide information and access to birth control, pregnancy tests and counseling, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Whether Keroack will follow these requirements is an open question. After all, he served as medical director of "A Woman's Concern," which runs six so-called "pregnancy health services" facilities in Massachusetts that counsel against abortion and contraception in favor of abstinence-only.

Among anti-abortionists, Keroack is considered a trailblazer in using ultrasounds to try to convince women not to get abortions. "He was one of the first doctors ever to really get involved in the medical aspect of some of these pregnancy resource centers," Raymond Ruddy, president of Gerard Health Foundation, which has given millions to antiabortion and abstinence groups, told the Boston Globe.

At a presentation to the International Abstinence Leadership Conference in Las Vegas in 2003, Keroack gave a PowerPoint presentation that claimed: "PRE-MARITAL SEX is really MODERN GERM WARFARE."

Keroack argued that there was a "scientific" basis for his proposal that premarital sex destroys any hope of a future in relationships.

Comparing sex to drug use, Keroack claims that the hormone produced by the brain after orgasm eventually diminishes a person's ability for emotional attachment. "Just as in heroin addiction...the person involved will experience 'sex withdrawal' and will need to move on to a...new sex playmate," he wrote in a 2001 paper for Abstinence Medical Council.

This is the man Bush wants in charge of $283 million in much-needed funds for poor women's reproductive health.

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