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Congressional Leaders Join Planned Parenthood in Calling For Replacement of Anti-Family Planning Advocate To Head Nation’s Family Planning Program
Senators Clinton and Murray, Congresswomen Slaughter and DeGette, Join Planned Parenthood to Denounce Orr’s Appointment
Washington, DC — On a conference call with reporters today, Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Congresswomen Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), joined Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards and Mary Jane Gallagher from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) to denounce the appointment of anti-family planning, anti-sex education hardliner Susan Orr to the position of acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs (DASPA).
They called on President Bush to replace Orr with someone qualified and committed to family planning. 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.
On the call with reporters, Cecile Richards said, “Appointing Susan Orr to head the nation’s family planning program is like choosing a police chief who doesn’t believe in fighting crime. This appointment is a nightmare for the 98 percent of women who use birth control at some point in their lives, as well as for their families.”
Orr was formerly a senior director for marriage and family care at the Family Research Council, a political organization that opposes family planning. While in this role, Orr cheered the Bush administration’s proposed elimination of the contraceptive coverage requirement from federal employees’ health insurance. Said Orr of the proposal, “We're quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”
"This appointment sends a message to women across this country: ideology trumps women's health in the Bush administration. That's why I am calling on the Bush administration to withdraw this nomination. The American people deserve a qualified public health expert who will serve women's health instead of serving an ideological and political agenda," said Senator Clinton.
Senator Patty Murray said, “This is a position with serious responsibilities and we need a candidate with a serious commitment to women's health. What we don't need is another administration appointee that has a healthier respect for the president than for sound science.”
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter remarked, “We are offended and affronted time after time by the Bush administration in their treatment of women. We need to put a stop to this appointment.”
“This is an Alice in Wonderland moment where everything is topsy-turvy. You have an individual appointed to a position who oversees birth control who opposes federal involvement in birth control. This is a critical position that could influence pregnancy prevention and contraception. The appointment of Susan Orr does not move us forward in this effort, it takes us back centuries,” said Congresswoman Diana DeGette.
Mary Jane Gallagher (NFPRHA) said, “We need family planning services like comprehensive sex education, counseling, STD and cancer screenings as well as access to contraception. Low-income and uninsured men and women deserve to have Title X administered by someone who agrees that all these things are important to ensure that families are well prepared to have children.”
Earlier this year, Bush appointed Eric Keroack, another anti-birth control extremist, for the same post. Keroack served as head of an organization called “A Woman’s Concern,” which boasted an anti-contraception policy on its website that declared birth control is “demeaning to women.” Planned Parenthood, along with 126 members of Congress, nearly 30 media outlets and 111,000 activists demanded Keroack be removed from this position. Keroack stepped down earlier this year amid Medicaid fraud allegations.
The Office of Population Affairs advises the secretary and the assistant secretary for health on "a wide range of reproductive health topics, including adolescent pregnancy, family planning, and sterilization, as well as other population issues," according to its website.