Monday, June 9, 2008

Contraception Hating Susan Orr Abruptly Resigns

Maybe she didn’t like overseeing the Title X project. Maybe she didn’t like that HHS stocked generic, not Charmin, toilet paper. Maybe she decided she was incredibly offended by the word birth control. You know, since she’s against it. Whatever the reason may be, after less than a year as head of Population Affairs for Health and Human Services (HHS), Susan Orr has resigned.

At the announcement of her appointment in 2007, women’s rights groups and lawmakers questioned Bush’s decision to appoint Orr because of her disappointing record on contraception. Several members of Congress urged Secretary Mike Leavitt to withdraw Orr’s appointment because of her past with disapproving birth control. Susan Orr has made countless number of comments railing against the distribution of birth control. Responding to Bush’s proposal to cut birth control from federal employees’ health insurance plan, she remarked “we’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease.” While working as policy director at the Reason Public Policy Institute, the anti-contraception zealot objected to a District of Columbia City Council bill that would have required health insurance companies to pay for contraception.

With Susan Orr’s appointment, President Bush demonstrated once again his contempt for women’s health and important reproductive health programs like Title X. For example, in 2006, Bush appointed Dr. Eric Keroack, an extremely religious, contraception-hating, conservative as head of Population Affairs at HHS. The former director of “A Woman’s Concern”--a group of crisis pregnancy centers in Massachusetts, and staunch abstinence-only education advocate, denounced birth control saying that it was “demeaning to women.” Of course Keroack did not stay in that position for long. He later resigned in March 2007 because of “ethical differences.” Seriously, what was Bush thinking? Is this some evil, strategic plot for Republicans to eliminate access to contraception? Having someone who denounces contraception is clearly not suitable for any position at that at Health and Human Services. The appointments of Keroack and Orr demonstrate what little concern Bush has for the women and men who benefit from HHS’s programs.

Shortly after Orr’s resignation, reports surfaced about the future of government programs such as Title X. The Bush Administration and conservative activist groups like Orr’s Family Research Council are scheming to add additional restrictions to Title X. Such restrictions include barring providers that receive Title X funds from even discussing abortion with patients. Adding such strict regulations to Title X will hinder and limit access to affordable heath services to women and men.

Funny how these changes are taking place when she resigns. Coincidence? I think not.

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