“The Bush administration’s announcement that Susan Orr has been appointed to lead the nation’s family planning program at the Department of Health and Human Services shows nothing less than contempt for American women and a disregard for access to the basic contraceptive services that allow families to plan and space pregnancies. Incredibly, her appointment comes on the heels of a second, equally controversial appointment — Dr. Eric Keroack –who had previously worked for a crisis pregnancy organization and was forced to step down in March amid ethical problems. Together, these appointments leave little doubt that ideology has taken clear precedence over the reproductive health needs of low-income Americans.
It is difficult to imagine a more problematic role for Susan Orr than her new position as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA). In this position, she will oversee the nearly $300 million Title X family planning a cornerstone of the nation’s efforts to promote access to high quality family planning services to low-income and uninsured women.
Orr’s qualifications lay bare the political agenda underlying her appointment. She served as senior director for marriage and family care at the conservative Family Research Council notorious for its support of anti-choice, anti-birth control, anti-sex education policies and was an adjunct professor at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. A 2000 Weekly Standard article notes that Orr fought a D.C. Council bill to require all employers to cover contraception.” “It’s not about choice,” said Orr. “It’s not about health care. It’s about making everyone collaborators with the culture of death.” Equally troubling is a 2001 statement by Orr in which she embraced a Bush administration proposal to “stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees” to cover a broad range of birth control, saying “We’re quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease.” Orr also applauded President Bush’s reinstatement of the global gag rule that it was proof Bush was pro-life “in his heart” and urged him to revoke approval for mifepristone (RU-486).
I urge President Bush in the strongest possible terms to appoint a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Population Affairs who supports the critical mission of the Title X family planning program and recognizes the inherent value of contraception and related services in the lives of American women and families.”