by Steph Sterling, Senior Advisor, Government Affairs
National Women's Law Center
Last month, we wrote about the Family Research Council’s decision to oppose the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, in part because it gives states the option of providing "family planning services" to low-income women. Why, you ask, are "family planning services" in quotation marks? Ask the Family Research Council. We don’t know why, but their action alert refuses to use the term without them.
Now, it looks like a Family Research Council alumna is going to make good use of quotation marks. We’ve gotten word from our friends at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association that Dr. Susan Orr, former Senior Director for Marriage and Family Care at the Family Research Council, has just been tapped to oversee the Title X “family planning” program. The Title X program is a critical part of our country’s health care safety net for low-income women, providing contraceptive care and other preventive health services to more than 5 million women each year.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Bush Administration has chosen yet another person who opposes birth control to run it. Dr. Orr cheered when the Bush Administration tried to eliminate contraceptive coverage guarantees for federal employees, and used to work for Wade Horn, the Administration’s point man on abstinence-only programs that promote gender stereotypes and censor information about contraceptives. She even opposed the District of Columbia's contraceptive equity bill that would have ensured that women with private health insurance had equal coverage of prescription contraceptives. "Family planning" indeed.
Dr. Orr’s appointment follows on the heels of Dr. Eric Keroack’s tenure at the Title X program. Dr. Keroack, you will recall, was the medical director for a crisis-pregnancy center that had an explicit policy opposing contraceptives. He recently resigned from his position.
Which leads me to a simple question: with 73% of Americans strongly supporting legislation to make it easier for women at all income levels to obtain contraceptives, and 98% of women relying on birth control at some point in their lives, where does the Bush Administration keep finding these people?
We’ll be watching Dr. Orr to make sure she doesn’t make any mischief in the coming months. Check back here for more.