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Bush taps birth control critic to head family planning programming
Jason Rhyne
Published: Wednesday October 17, 2007
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President Bush's choice for heading family planning programming within the Department of Health and Human Services is a critic of birth control.

"Susan Orr, most recently an associate commissioner in the Administration for Children and Families, was appointed Monday to be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs," reports the Washington Post. "She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings."

Orr was quoted in a 2001 article in the Post as supporting a Bush proposal to end a requirement that health insurance plans for federal employees contain coverage for birth control. "We're quite pleased," she said about the plan at the time, "because fertility is not a disease."

"Its not a medical necessity that you have it," Orr said of contraception.

She is also a former senior director with the Family Research Council, a conservative organization promoting abstinence education programs and standing against federal funding for contraception.

Eric Keroack, who previously held the post before his resignation in March, similarly opposed contraceptive options, calling them "demeaning to women." He was the head of A Woman's Concern, a Christian pregnancy-counseling group which also favors abstinence as a primary birth control method.

"We have another appointment that just truly politicizes family planning," the president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Mary Jane Gallagher, told the Post. "The last time I looked, both Republicans and Democrats used contraception in America."

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, however, told the Wall Street Journal that Orr was supportive of Bush's policies of providing "safe and effective products and services" and that allow for a "freedom of conscience and freedom of choice."

Anand Parekh, the acting deputy assistant secretary for health, praised Orr for her previous work at the Department.

"She has been responsible for working with State and local agencies to develop programs that focus on preventing the abuse of children in troubled families, protecting children from abuse, and finding permanent placements for those who cannot safely return to their homes, Parekh told the Journal.

Orr's appointment does not require confirmation from the Senate.