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Planned Parenthood Calls on Secretary Leavitt to Pull Keroack

Nation's Leading Reproductive Health Care Advocate and Provider Opposes Appointment of Anti-Birth Control Activist Chosen to Oversee Title X.



WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and 24 of the nation's leading providers and advocates of reproductive health care today sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, urging him to reconsider the appointment of anti-birth control, anti-sex education hardliner Eric Keroack to the position of deputy assistant secretary for population affairs (DASPA).  The DASPA oversees Title X, the nation's family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to more than five million low-income individuals annually, helping prevent more than one million unintended pregnancies each year.

"Keroack's professional history makes clear he should be stamped with a warning label against women's health and safety," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  "Appointing an individual who has crusaded against birth control to head the nation's family planning program makes a mockery of women's health.  Keroack's appointment ought to be pulled immediately."

PPFA has also asked their more than three million activists and supporters to petition Secretary Leavitt to rescind Keroack's appointment.

Dr. Keroack is currently the medical director for A Woman’s Concern (AWC), a network of so-called “crisis pregnancy health centers” in the greater Boston area.  In addition to their strict anti-choice policies, under Dr. Keroack’s supervision, AWC health centers will not even distribute, encourage the use of, or offer referrals for contraceptive drugs and devices.  

More than thirty years ago, with strong bipartisan support, Congress created Title X, the nation’s first federal program dedicated to the provision of family planning services.  Since then, the Title X program has helped build a network of family planning clinics, established the standards used for the delivery of high-quality, low-cost family planning services, and enabled millions of women to plan their pregnancies, prevent unintended births, and receive desperately needed reproductive health care.  Since 1980, Title X has helped women avoid almost 20 million pregnancies and has provided key reproductive health services to millions of women. 

The letter, sent to Secretary Leavitt this morning, reads:

Dear Secretary Leavitt:
 
The undersigned organizations are writing to express our grave concern over the appointment of Dr. Eric Keroack as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA).  As you know, the DASPA oversees Title X, the nation’s family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to over five million low-income individuals annually, helping them to avoid approximately one million unintended pregnancies each year.  Dr. Keroack's public statements, writings, and professional associations demonstrate his opposition to contraception and nondirective health care.  His positions are antithetical to the goals of the Title X program, are not based on sound science, and could jeopardize the health of millions of American women.  Accordingly, we urge you to reconsider this appointment.
 
Dr. Keroack is currently the Medical Director for A Woman’s Concern (AWC), six crisis pregnancy health centers in the Greater Boston area.  Under Dr. Keroack’s supervision, AWC health centers will not distribute, encourage the use of, or offer referrals for contraceptive drugs and devices.   Moreover, AWC’s website disparages the use of birth control as degrading to women; incorrectly characterizes traditional forms of birth control as abortifacients, and wrongly claims that the use of contraception increases pregnancy.1
 
Furthermore, these centers are fundamentally designed to dissuade pregnant women from seeking abortions, in part through false and misleading information.  By supporting biased counseling, Dr. Keroack rejects a long standing Title X requirement that women facing an unintended pregnancy be provided nondirective options counseling upon request—meaning neutral, factual information on prenatal care and delivery; infant care, foster care, or adoption; and pregnancy termination.

We strongly believe that Dr. Keroack’s views are out of step with scientific evidence, the mandates of the Title X program, and the ninety-eight percent of American women who will use birth control during their reproductive lives. Clients seeking contraception, STD testing, information, and counseling have a right to expect health services that reflect sound public health goals rather than a political agenda.

Given that much of Dr. Keroack’s career appears to have been dedicated to dissuading women from availing themselves of family planning services, we believe that Dr. Keroack would neither be inclined nor should he be trusted to carry out and enforce the goals of Title X.

For more than 35 years, the Title X program has been a hallmark of quality preventive health care, enabling public health practitioners to provide high-quality family planning services and other preventative health care to low-income or uninsured individuals who may otherwise lack access to health care.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included family planning in its list of the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” 

In order to ensure that the mission of Title X remains intact, we strongly urge you to reconsider the appointment of Dr. Keroack as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs.  American women deserve better.

Sincerely,

Advocates for Youth
American Medical Women’s Association
American Public Health Association
American Social Health Association
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Catholics for Free Choice
Legal Momentum
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Abortion Federation
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
National Coalition of STD Directors
National Council of Jewish Women
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Women’s Health Network
National Women’s Law Center
Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Population Connection
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Reproductive Health Technologies Project
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
Union of Concerned Scientists



1http://partners.awomansconcern.org/images/misc/birth_control_policy.pdf

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Contacts

Erin Kiernon, 202-973-4975

Published: 11.21.06

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