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Birth-Control Foe To Run Office on Family Planning

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Bush administration again has appointed a chief of family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who has been critical of contraception.

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. She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings.

In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. "We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease," said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.

Critics panned the appointment last year of Eric Keroack, a physician who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that opposed the use of birth control. He resigned in March.

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

HHS spokesman Kevin Schweers said Orr's "breadth of programmatic and managerial experience makes her highly qualified to serve as acting director."

-- Christopher Lee

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