Friday, November 17, 2006

New Head of National Family Planning Program is Anti-Family Planning -- HUH?

So just when you think that there is some hope that the Bush administration might get that the nation does not support their policies on sexuality issues (or the war or much else for that matter), something happens that makes you realize how out of touch they are. Yesterday, I blogged about the Catholic Bishops telling their married congregants not to use birth control.
Seems like the nation's family planning program could be headed in that direction as well. The Bush administration yesterday announced its appointment of Dr. Erik Keroack as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, the nation's official in charge of the national family planning program.
Here's part of the press release we put out:
"It is a cruel joke on low-income women in America who turn to the government for assistance with family planning services to place Dr. Erik Keroack in charge of the national Title X program.
Dr. Keroack is an anti-contraception advocate who has been serving as medical director of "A Women's Concern," an organization with an official policy that states "birth demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality, and averse to human health and happiness." The official mission of the organization is to discourage women from having abortions and learn "how to establish a vital relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church."
“The vast majority of religious denominations in the United States support the right of each family to decide when and whether to have children. The vast majority of people of faith in this country practice birth control use, which allows them to celebrate their sexuality with holiness and integrity.
"From a religious perspective, voluntary contraception allows women and families to nurture their children and their families. It is precisely because life and parenthood are so precious that we call for a faith based commitment to sexual and reproductive rights.”
By the way, this is a done deal. No confirmation hearings, no chance for change. Stay tuned to see what Dr. Keroack decides to do. Let's hope that the new Congress makes sure he understands that his job is to serve women and families not deny them sexual and reproductive health services.


Anonymous said...

Quick check to my calendar -- uh, no, it is not 4/1...our president is playing a cruel joke on women across the nation.

Anonymous said...

Try living in West Africa and teaching abstinence to young teenage girls (because if you work for the government that is now about all you are allowed to teach) when there is at least a 50% AIDS epidemic all while the local priest is trying to sleep with the same girls you are trying to teach abstinence to...... Dear God.....

Cassandra said...

Rev. Deb, to say that the Catholic Church tells its congregants not to use birth control is misinformation. They only oppose immoral methods of birth control. Natural Family Planning is a perfectly legitimate method of spacing or completely avoiding children in the eyes of the Church.

ncdave4life said...

Deb, you have made the mistake of equating family planning with artificial contraception. One need not use artificial contraception to plan one's family.

Dr. Keroack is not against family planning. He is against letting people get hurt because they have been duped into thinking that contraceptives make sex "safe." There is nothing in the job description of the HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary of Population Affairs requiring that he help perpetuate dangerous myths about contraception.

It is the responsibility of everyone in authority, but especially of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, to be honest about the drawbacks of artificial contraception. The job does not need a cheerleader for unsafe practices.

One of the most widespread and deadly misconceptions about sexual transmission of STDs is that reliance upon condoms eliminates the risk. However, condoms provide less than 100% effective protection against even those diseases that they are most effective against, and little to no effectiveness against some others.

Consider HPV. Several studies have found that condoms offer no protection at all against transmission of HPV, though one small recent study (Winer et al) of 82 female U. Washington students found that condoms may provide 70% effective protection over an eight month period.

70% effectiveness is the MOST optimistic result seen in any study so far, and it relied upon some questionable assumptions which, if erroneous, would most likely mean that the study over-estimated the protection afforded by condom use. For instance, the study authors made no attempt to identifty the HPV infection status of the women's male partners, and assumed that men who use condoms have the same likelihood of carrying the disease as do men who don't use condoms – which is a particularly strange assumption for a study that purports to show that condoms reduce the transmission of HPV!

But even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that that optimistic result is correct, it still means that it is folly to rely on condoms for protection against HPV. At first glance, 70% sounds pretty good. But it isn't, because the study length was just 8 months, and most sexually active people don't stop having sex after 8 months.

Consider an analogy. Removing 5 of the 6 bullets in a revolver is 83% effective at preventing death from Russian Roulette. Right?

Well, maybe. It depends on how often you play. If you will only play only once, removing 5 of the 6 bullets provides 83% effective protection.

But if you will play Russian Roulette 100 times, it does not matter how many bullets are in the gun. A person playing Russian Roulette 100 times with a six-shot revolver cntaining only one bullet has just one chance in 82 million of surviving.

Likewise, using the optimistic results of the U. Washington study, if condoms are 70% effective at preventing transmission of HPV for 8 months, one can calculate that they will be much less than 50% effective at preventing it for 3 years, and much less than 10% effective at preventing it for 10 years.

In other words, if a woman replies on condoms for long term protection against HPV, and she has sex with an HPV-infected partner, she is almost certain to contract one or more strains of the virus.

What's more, the U. Washington study found that most of the new HPV infections they detected were of "high-risk" strains (which cause cervical cancer). In fact, most of the new infections were with high-risk HPV strains which are NOT protected against by the new anti-HPV vaccine.

Dr. Keroack is pro-life. That follows naturally because Dr. Keroack is a Christian who practices his Faith. That means that he takes seriously the striptures which identify unborn babies as living human beings beloved to God, and the scriptural command to "rescue those being led away to death," and Jesus' warning that "as you have done it to the least of them... you have done it to Me." So Dr. Keroack has worked for years to save children from slaughter, and prevent young mothers from making tragic mistakes.

Being pro-life doesn't mean that you care only about babies, and abortion is not the only tragedy associated with sex. Millions of teens and young adults are putting themselves at risk of a variety of tragic consequences due to their misplaced faith in artificial contraception, and their ignorance of the risks involved.

The anti-abstinence zealots might not care about them, but Dr. Keroack does.

-Dave Burton
Cary, NC
dave at burtonsys dot com

Rev. Debra W. Haffner said...

Dave, this is the head of the National Family Planning Program --the only way that low income women can obtain low cost contraception in this country. The program requires that ALL methods be provided.

On condoms, I can't begin to respond to your inaccuracies...but it's important for readers to know that using a condom is 10,000 times safer than not using a condom if sex is going to occur, condom or no condom. I refer readers to the National Institutes of Health consensus report.

Your comparison to Russian Roulette is just wrong. The effectiveness of condoms -- or any contraceptive -- is computed as number of women who get pregnant in a year of typical and perfect use. By your analogy, we would all get pregnant eventually whether a method was used or not. It's not the way statistics work.

Oh, and it's Debra...even my closest friends don't get to call me Deb or Debbie.

ncdave4life said...

P.S. - Debra, I also dispute your belief that the OPA offers "the only way that low income women can obtain low cost contraception in this country." In the first place, the grants offered by the OPA are not the only source of funding for the various health departments, Planned Parenthood offices, hospitals, etc. that provide family-planning services. But in the second place, I offer as proof a link to a completely unrelated source of low-cost contraception: eBay/family-planning. $20 on eBay will get you about 100 name-brand condoms, shipped to your door, with a net cost that is probably less than most people would have to spend on bus fares to get them at the county health department.

So, as you can see, the OPA obviously is not the only source of low-cost contraception in this country.

dave at burtonsys dot com