Thursday, October 18, 2007

The President and Birth Control

For the second time, President Bush has appointed a chief of family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who is against birth control. Susan Orr was appointed Monday and will soon have control of $283 million in annual grants. But what does a conservative who is against contraception do with $283 million that normally go to helping low-income families with contraceptive services and counseling. Will it all go to counseling now?

Orr is replacing Eric Keroack, a physician who resigned in March, who was heavily criticized for working at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that opposed the use of birth control.

I leave the comments to the best commentator on the web, William Saletan of Slate, who writes:

The new appointee has argued that federal employees' health insurance should not have to cover contraception, "because fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have [contraception]."

Pro-choice reactions: 1) You've got to be kidding us … again. 2) Pssst, right-wingers! 98% of women use contraception! 3) Way to go, geniuses—expect more abortions.

Conservative rebuttals: 1) The new appointee didn't oppose contraception per se; she just wanted "to allow federal employees the option to choose a health benefits plan that did not include family planning coverage." 2) It's not just a moral issue; some employees don't want such coverage "due to their age." 3) We're for "consumer choice of coverage" and "keeping family planning truly voluntary."

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