By ANDREW BRIDGES
The Associated Press
Saturday, November 18, 2006; 2:50 AM
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration, to the consternation of its critics, has picked the medical director of an organization that opposes premarital sex, contraception and abortion to lead the office that oversees federally funded teen pregnancy, family planning and abstinence programs.
The appointment of Eric Keroack, a Marblehead, Mass. obstetrician and gynecologist, to oversee the federal Office of Population Affairs and its $283 million annual budget has angered family-planning advocates.
Keroack currently is medical director of A Woman's Concern, a Christian nonprofit. The Dorchester, Mass.-based organization runs six centers in the state that offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and counseling. It also works to "help women escape the temptation and violence of abortion," according to its statement of faith. And it opposes contraception, saying its use increases out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion rates.
"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," its contraception policy reads in part.
"The appointment of anti-birth control, anti-sex education advocate Dr. Eric Keroack to oversee the nation's family planning program is striking proof that the Bush administration remains dramatically out of step with the nation's priorities," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
A message left with A Woman's Concern was not immediately returned Friday.
Keroack's appointment as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs does not require Senate confirmation. He is expected to start work in the next several weeks, Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Christina Pearson said.
The department's assistant secretary for health, Dr. John Agwunobi, cited Keroack's experience in working primarily with "women and girls in crisis" in lauding his appointment.
"He regularly speaks to youth audiences on sexual risk behaviors and has been nationally recognized for his work on preventing teen pregnancy," Agwunobi said.
Office of Population Affairs: http://opa.osophs.dhhs.gov/
A Woman's Concern: http://partners.awomansconcern.org/