Big win for all women

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April 3, 2007

2:47 PM

Phew. Women across the country may be able to finally rest easy now that the American government’s federal family planning agency is no longer run by an anti-choice fanatic. Thursday, the media began reporting that Eric Keroack, head of the Health and Human Services’ Office of Population Affairs since November 2006, decided to resign from his post following legal action by Massachusetts Medicaid officials. I, however, prefer to believe that the resignation was due to his total lack of reason and sanity. I mean, I know this is a Republican administration, so I tend to disagree with a lot of its policies, but this guy is a serious nutjob.

p. Back in November when Keroack was appointed by President Bush, the decision was heavily criticized by pro-choice, pro-family planning women’s health organizations such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Not only is this guy adamantly anti-choice (unlike the majority of Americans), he doesn’t even support contraception — not even for married couples. The policy statement of the crisis pregnancy centers he runs asserts that “the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness.” Yeah, I know. It gets worse.

p. His ring of Massachusetts crisis pregnancy centers called “A Woman’s Concern” also claims that women who get abortions are at a 50 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. This “abortion-breast cancer” link has been disproved and discarded by the medical community (you know, such radical, liberally biased publications as the New England Journal of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute), but Keroack presents it as fact to women looking for help and advice about unintended pregnancies.

p. And this man was put in charge of a $283 million annual budget specifically put in place to provide low-income women with accurate family planning information and safe contraception? For my conservative readers, that would be like putting Michael Moore in charge of the war in Iraq — asinine. Just because the president apparently doesn’t believe in women’s sexual health and safety doesn’t mean he should be allowed to circumvent the actual institutions of the United States to further his own political goals.
Okay, so back to “A Woman’s Concern.”

p. I know that not all crisis pregnancy centers in this country are biased and manipulative, but the ones run by Keroack make me sick. They claim to provide “complete, accurate information” to women and couples making decisions about unintended pregnancies. Oh, come on. The reason why his centers even exist is specifically to not give “complete, accurate information” about women’s options (that’s what Planned Parenthood already does). They vehemently discourage abortion, and it is their official policy to provide zero information about birth control. I think we could probably define the information they disseminate as “incomplete” and “inaccurate.” Let me just say it one more time: these people are lying to women, and that is terrible.

p. But hey, no need to further dwell on Keroack’s repugnant politics, dishonesty and lack of respect for women. For the time being, Evelyn Kappeler, current acting deputy director for Population Affairs, will take over his position. No one is quite sure what her opinions are on accurate medical information and women’s health and safety, but hopefully she’s for it. Honestly, we have nowhere to go but up.

p. __Devan Barber, a junior at the College, is a staff columnist. Her columns appear on Tuesdays.__

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