Bush Appoints Fox To Guard The Henhouse genre: Hip-Gnosis

Fox in the henhouse

On Friday President Bush appointed Dr. Eric Keroack to head the Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs which oversees a budget of $280 million dollars aimed at reproductive-health issues. The appointment has drawn criticism from a number of groups and has led a group of Democrats to call for his replacement. Read the full story at Reuters.

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several Democratic lawmakers asked the Bush administration on Monday to replace its new family-planning chief because he has worked for a health provider that opposes the use of birth control.

"We are concerned that Dr. Keroack has promoted policies -- including the refusal to distribute contraception even to married women -- that directly conflict with the mission of the federal program," the letter said.

Keroack last week was named head of HHS's Office of Population Affairs, which funds birth control, pregnancy tests, breast-cancer screening and other health services for 5 million poor people annually. HHS estimates that the program helps to prevent 1.3 million unwanted pregnancies each year.

The office also oversees a $30 million program that encourages sexual abstinence among teens.

An HHS spokeswoman said Keroack is a skilled doctor and a nationally recognized expert on preventing teen pregnancy.

I don't know that much about Keroack but it isn't difficult to realize that he has an agenda and his appointment fits the Bush administration pattern of putting religious ideology above science in an effort to promote his own evangelical bias. This appointment and a number of others point to a growing problem with regard to the separation of science and health from religion. While I don't doubt the doctor’s credentials, the problem is whether he is guided by the science at the core of his education credentials or the religious beliefs that he holds. There are a growing number of experts that are using their influential positions to promote positions that may actually be in conflict with hard science and proven research.

Keroack previously served as medical director for A Woman's Concern, a chain of Boston-area pregnancy clinics that advise against the use of contraception and advocate abstinence as a way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Keroack has spoken at abstinence conferences across the country and has written that people who have more than one sex partner have a diminished neurological capacity to experience loving relationships.

On Friday the Washington Post ran a story on the appointment. The following are excerpts from that article that elaborate on Keroack's background.

From The Washington Post:

The Keroack appointment angered many family-planning advocates, who noted that A Woman's Concern supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts.

"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," the group's Web site says.

The quotation from A Woman's Choice should remove any doubt as to the biased ideological leanings of Keroack. Frankly, the bulk of the quotation is a matter of opinion and not a function of scientific research...hardly the impartial professionalism one would expect for an appointment to oversee a program focused on reproductive-health. I would equate the appointment with hiring a fox to guard the henhouse.

I'm sure there are numerous qualified Doctors who would not bring an ideological agenda to this position. That logically suggests that Keroack’s appointment was intended to alter the purpose of the program and allow it to be skewed by religious considerations. If this is an indication of the President's willingness to set aside partisan politics, the next two years should be very interesting.

Daniel DiRito | November 20, 2006 | 6:09 PM
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