Dr. Keroack, Uncle Sam, Women ... and God
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Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 01:09:24 AM EST
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDr. Eric Keroack, appointed as our nation's chief of family planning, is a man who spent the last several years as medical director for a chain of Christian crisis pregnancy centers. And since Keroack formulated the medical protocols for A Woman's Concern, it follows that the medical policies of this organization are his own.  

We know that Keroack uses potentially harmful exposure to ultrasound radiation for non-medical purposes, regarding this powerful technology as a psychological tool to be employed upon women who might be "abortion-vulnerable." And if showing a woman a sonogram image doesn't accomplish his goal, there are scare stories about abortion itself, including the thoroughly debunked lie that abortion increases a woman's chance of developing breast cancer -- a risk that AWC insists can be over 50%.

Objections to Keroack's appointment have focused on his "bad science" characterization of sexual relationships outside of marriage as nothing but hormonal bondage [powerpoint link] cemented by oxytocin. Nervousness about Keroack's views is unavoidable, given his new-found power over $283 million dollars of federal funding intended for family planning services, and his advocacy of useless abstinence programs that the federal government itself says aren't working, but that the Bush administration is expanding to target unmarried adults under 30.

And, of course, there's Kerouac's long professional association with the architect and prime mover of the South Dakota abortion ban, Leslee Unruh.

Over the last several days, ubiquitous press and Internet reports have quoted the belief of A Woman's Concern that "the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality, and adverse to human health and happiness."  Having served its purpose, that inflammatory quotation is then left to dangle unexplained.  

Most reporters seem to be so afraid of being accused of disrespecting religion that they, unlike Eric Keroack, leave God out of the story.

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Like his patron, George W. Bush, who reportedly told televangelist James Robison that he would be president because "God wants me to do it," Eric Keroack seems to oppose birth control and sexual relationships outside of marriage largely because God wants him to do it. When Bugs Bunny and Fred Flintstone shill for Eric Keroack and Leslee Unruh's Abstinence Clearinghouse, it's because they're on a mission from God.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingA month ago, in anticipation of assuming his new position, Keroack resigned as medical director of A Woman's Concern, his only employer of record. Somewhere in the intervening time, that now infamous quotation about the demeaning nature of birth control mysteriously seems to have disappeared from the AWC Web site.  

When those astonishing words are read within their full context, it's easy to see why Keroack might have thought their disappearance to be -- to evoke the first President Bush -- prudent at this juncture.

Policy on Contraception and "Emergency Contraception" [pdf link, all emphases in the original]

Consistent with its commitment to women's health and to every client's right of informed consent, A Woman's Concern maintains a clear operating policy regarding contraception and emergency contraception.
A Woman's Concern is persuaded that human sexuality finds its healthiest expression and highest fulfillment within lifelong marriage between a man and a woman. Less than a half-century after the development of the oral contraceptive pill and widespread "loosening" of sexual mores, America has seen the devastating public health consequences of nonmarital sexual activity ...
We recognize that the clients we serve may not share this wisdom or have lost sight of it. ... A Woman's Concern will pursue every opportunity to educate the sexually active client on the reasons why sexual purity is in her best interest.
AWC staff and volunteers will not distribute brochures, books or other materials that advocate and promote the use of contraception.
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. AWC also accepts evidence demonstrating that distribution of birth control, especially among adolescents, actually increases (rather than decreases) out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion.

Like many others on the Christian right, Dr. Eric Keroack believes in the pernicious influence of the "contraceptive mentality.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAccording to Keroack, even condoms are deceptively dangerous. In disagreement with legitimate medical organizations and with millions of everyday condom users, AWC says, "Condoms break or slip off 15.1% of the time and they provide little or no protection against HPV- the most common and communicable STD."  

That same Web page warns: "You can get pregnant using the pill, shot, condoms, or other forms of birth control. (1 in 100 women will get pregnant in the first year of using the birth control pill as directed. The average use of the pill results in 3 in 100 unintended pregnancies)." It fails to mention, of course, that the average woman's risk of pregnancy in one year without contraception is about 85% -- over 28 times greater than with even an imperfect use of the pill.

Why, one might ask, would a medical professional lend his name to such unethical deceptions? That's a good question -- and under the medical directorship of Eric Keroack, AWC has the answer.

"You may experience spiritual consequences: when you are living in a way that contradicts your belief system, you are living a lifestyle that is not true to yourself, and therefore can cause turmoil in your soul and block your relationship with God."

A woman who is living such a lifestyle is marked by her immodesty. [All emphases in the original]

The Consequences of Immodesty

  1. Immodesty is distracting

  2. Immodesty makes us worry more about how we look which can lead to many types of disorders, including, but not limited to, anorexia, bulimia, depression, and low self-worth.

  3. Immodesty encourages men to become less honorable

  4. Immodesty may lead to more pre-marital sex which in turn can lead to many problems including STD's, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and emotional and spiritual consequences.

  5. Immodesty leads to a blurring of right and wrong sexual behavior -- at what point do we draw the line?

  6. Immodesty reduces women to a collection of body parts which cancels out their intellect, heart, and soul.

  7. Immodesty is missing God's best for your life. "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." Ephesians 5:3 "Therefore Jesus said...The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10: 7,10

That's right; God doesn't like it, which is also the reason . . .

Why a Sexual Relationship Before Marriage Sets You Up for Trouble

If you can maintain self-control in pre-marital relationships, you will be far better prepared to maintain self-control in your marriage. ... Studies actually show that those who wait for sex until marriage are more loyal and less likely to have an affair. In fact, 90% of married men remained true to their brides, while only 43% of cohabitating men stayed true to their partner.

Emotional bonds
Creating emotional bonds before you are in a committed, selfless relationship - marriage - can set you up for major heartbreak. Whether you experience a break up with the person you had an emotional bond with or whether years down the road memories keep coming up about that person because of your emotional bond, it hurts and confuses you. Better to steer clear of pre-marital deep emotional bonds.

More likely to have extra-marital affairs
Yep, it's true. Check out the above note on self-discipline.

If you are messing around with sex outside of marriage, you are putting yourself in danger of getting a sexually transmitted disease. The fact is ... we know that 1 in 2 people who are sexually active have an STD, some of which are not curable. Clearly, "safe sex" doesn't work, so be smart and protect yourself with sexual integrity instead by waiting until marriage to have sex.

Because God says so
God requires those who know Him to remain pure until marriage - no sex, in fact, not even a hint of sexual immorality. Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman to reflect Christ and His bride, the church. ... Oh yea, and it was also set up so that you can have the best sex ever!

On ... Birth Control Pills

Contraception not only increases the likelihood of abortion, but clearly some methods ... also act as abortifacients. ... The abortifacient mechanism of the oral contraceptive pill has been questionned (sic) by some physicians. ...  [P]ackage inserts for Wyeth-Ayerst's "LoOvral" and Ortho Pharmaceutical's "Ortho-Tri-Cyclen" - both common forms of the Pill - explain that one of the three ways these drugs may work is by preventing implantation/nidation. In layman's terms: a newly conceived human being will be unable to take nourishment in his/her mother's womb and will die within just days of entering into existence.

Got that, ladies? Dr. Eric Keroack, now in charge of our country's family planning programs, says that taking birth control pills is the same thing as starving your baby to death. Contraception = abortion.

And as for Dr. Keroack's professional expertise regarding actual abortion, you can read it for yourself. As an information specialist in the field of abortion care, I was unable to find a single factual statement -- aside from the confession that anti-choice activist and Keroack's fellow CPC operator Carol Everett used to profit from abortion surgeries on women who weren't even pregnant -- but perhaps you'll have better luck. Since Keroack at one time allegedly performed a number of abortion procedures himself, his former abortion patients have my deepest, if retroactive, sympathy.

Missouri blogger Erich Veith has some musings highly pertinent to Keroack's appointment.

Nature (or if you prefer, "God") designed us so that half of the fertilized human eggs never implant (that's about 15,000 each day in the U.S.).  Further, more than 1,500 miscarriages occur every day in the U.S.  Despite this rampant loss of life, I suspect that you don't go around calling your God a baby killer.  I don't think the rule should be any different for a woman than for God.

Despite Keroack's dedication to the principle of total abstinence outside of marriage, and despite his adamant opposition to contraception, his former employer at A Woman's Concern says that Keroack will feel no moral conflict in heading the primary federal program for birth control.  And White House spokeswoman Dana Perino assures women that they have nothing to worry about: "You have to look at these things in isolation." Women might worry less if Perino hadn't added, "The president has said we will look to reach common ground where we can find it, however he's not going to compromise on his principles."

From Maine to California, women are holding onto the "immodest" hope that Dr. Eric Keroack is going to compromise on his own principles.

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[Image from The Journal-American Online]

But when the Boston Globe editorializes that "to argue that abstinence is the only acceptable route to family planning divides the country, ignores reality, and condemns millions of women to poorer lives," one can't help wondering whether that hasn't been the plan all along.

[Condom image: Salon.com]

[Title poster by Austin Cline]

to his presumably unauthorized use of licensed characters and Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons,  Keroack's comments on genital herpes in his abstinence presentation -- seemingly designed to strike fear into his mostly white Christian audience -- have gone unremarked.

African Americans have higher HSV Infection rates than whites. But in the past 8 years, HSV has increased 400% in white teens, and 200% in white individuals in their 20s.

And for an OB/GYN, his attitude toward women in general is no better.


*Acts as a Modulator of Neurotransmitter Responses
*Amplifies most Neurotransmitter effects
*Increases Oxytocin's effects by 8 times the normal



by moiv on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 01:48:17 AM EST
Turns out:

He sometimes does prescribe contraceptives. Is this just cover or does he have a double standard that depends on whether the patient is rich or poor?

"When he was in private practice as a doctor, he did prescribe birth control," Pearson said. "And he did family planning with patients at their request as part of his private physician role." She said Keroack has prescribed contraceptives for both married and unmarried women.

He's not even currently accredited as an Ob/Gyn as we'd assumed.

Pearson also acknowledged yesterday that Keroack is not currently certified as an obstetrician-gynecologist. That is not a requirement for the job, but HHS officials had cited Keroack's expertise in defending his selection.

Keroack was certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1995, but that credential expired after 10 years.

"He inadvertently missed the recertification deadline and for 2006 is listed as board-eligible, meaning he is eligible to take the recertification exam," Pearson said. "He plans to seek recertification in the future."

And this appointment may not just slip through.

Democrats and family-planning advocates have panned the Bush administration's selection of Keroack to oversee HHS's $283 million reproductive-health program and a $30 million program that encourages abstinence among teenagers because of his work with A Woman's Concern.

They said that Keroack is a poor choice to lead HHS's Office of Population Affairs, which funds birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling and screenings for sexually transmitted disease and HIV. Fourteen Democratic senators sent a letter yesterday urging HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to withdraw Keroack's appointment. Seven House Democrats issued a similar call Monday. The job does not require Senate confirmation.

"Unfortunately, this appointment is another example of the administration allowing ideology to trump science, and it could jeopardize vital services on which large numbers of women and families depend," the letter said. Signers included incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who will be chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.                            


by Psyche on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 04:21:08 PM EST
H/T to feministing.

Nice to see some oversight. House letter here. Senate letter here.

by Psyche on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 11:59:34 PM EST

Keroack's professional credentials seem in order, as detailed in the MA state licensure board site:
http://profiles.massmedboard.org/MA-Physician-Profile-View-Doctor .asp?ID=19730
He seems to have been an academically average (3 case reports on fetal heart rate monitoring in various conditions - note, not on contraception, abortion, STDs, etc) resident. Not surprisingly, since he apparently has not worked outside the CPC venues for the last 13 years (since he finished residency), he does not have malpractice actions pending or finished within the past 10 years. He has no publications in peer-reviewed journals based on work since his graduation from residency. He may have better than average teaching skills based on an award given during residency. His PowerPoint skills, however.....EMERGENCY, CALLING DR. TUFTE (a noted graphics guru). His theory about oxytocin is , well, full-o-it, and lacking in d-a-t-a as well as logic. In the first 10 pages or so of googling, I turned up many presentations by K. listed on anti-choice sites, but zero presentations on his theory listed on scientific society sites (ie, he hasn't presented this in abstract form at a scientific meeting and does not have even preliminary data or even a reasonable grant application abstract).

In short, he has zero professional qualifications for his governmental position - this is no C. Everett Koop, who was a respected academic, anti-abortion, and had scientific integrity (he refused to make statements about "post abortion syndrome' , saying that there was no reliable data that the entity existed).

by NancyP on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:45:20 PM EST

agrees with you.

Today I received the following news release from Alliant International University (excerpted for brevity):

Dr. Rebecca Turner Issues Statement Rebutting "Pseudoscience"

Psychologist Dr. Rebecca Turner has rebutted as "complete pseudoscience" Dr. Eric Keroack's claim that too much sex can cause women to lose their ability to bond. Dr. Turner, a professor in the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) at Alliant International University, is the author of original research that was misrepresented by Kerouac, President Bush's appointee for the nation's top family-planning post.

"Someone who holds an important government office, such as that to be held by Eric Keroack, MD, should be held accountable in interpreting science and offering it to the public as evidence," said Dr. Turner. "A candidate for this post should be chosen not only because of his political views, but also because of his expertise. His interpretation of the scientific literature does not show sufficient expertise, in my view."


Keroack's paper, written in 2001 for a group called the Abstinence Clearinghouse, cited only Turner's pilot work, a paper that was entitled 'Preliminary research...'.

Dr. Turner, whose 1999 paper was published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychiatry, stated, "We all know that strong belief systems do
influence the interpretation of any facts. That is why, in science, we put forth our work for critical review by our peers."

"In any case, none of our studies provide a basis for their claims," Dr.Turner averred. Keroack did not cite any of Turner's later, more definitive work.

"Scientific research has shown that the hormone cortisol rises with psychologically-induced stress," Dr. Turner explained. "Our research examined whether blood levels of oxytocin would similarly increase with sad or positive emotions induced by interview discussions and emotionally-evocative film clips. The research was a collaboration between CSPP and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health in 1998.

Margaret Altemus, MD, a psychiatrist at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, was Co-Principal Investigator for the studies. The initial study was cutting-edge research at the time; but, in the end (2002), we did not find changes in oxytocin levels that were related to these emotions."

Dr. Turner stated, "Scholars are deeply concerned that Dr. Keroack's influence on abstinence education and birth control policies in poorer countries may ultimately have bad consequences, especially for youth and women. In this country, women were told for years that shame would befall them and no one would want to marry them if they had sex prior to marriage. In the 1960's, there was a large-scale rebellion against such gender-specific norms.

"Due to concerns about health and emotional development, I certainly would not promote the idea that teenagers should engage in multiple sexual relationships. However, the cautions we give to teens should be based on honest concerns about health and values, not misinformation such as the statement that they will never be able to bond with a partner or have loving attachments in later life.


"It is important that people get the facts straight. Social science research can tell us certain things about how various factors are related to one another, what kinds of interventions are helpful and what underlying causes may be attributed to social problems," Dr. Turner stated. "However, it is very difficult to go from social science evidence to direct policy statements that purport to be right for everyone. It takes many studies and a lot of public debate."

"There are always some human values involved in statements of policy, and it is fairer to the public to acknowledge what those values are," she continued. "This is something we instill in our students at Alliant -- in a free society, we have to be open to debate the evidence, the meaning of the evidence and its quality. At least Dr. Keroack's co-author did acknowledge that they were developing conclusions that no scientists would ever put forth."

Dr. Turner lauded the Boston Globe, which broke the story about Keroack's claims, by digging in to the research Keroack and his coauthor cited. "Most people are not going to go to the original scientific sources (the journals) to see whether the claims of politicians are correct. That's why it is so easy to mislead the public with interpretations of scientific findings."


Dr. Turner stated, "A physician in high office should be held not just to the same standards as others who are, by profession, scientists, but to a higher standard because of the magnified impact his or her views will have on the public. That's why it's so important for someone dealing with public policy to be clear about where the science (or social science) stops and where the human values begin."

In addition to serving as a CSPP Professor at Alliant, Dr. Rebecca Turner, PhD, is also the holder of a public office. This February, she was elected to her second term as chair of the Mental Health Board for the City and County of San Francisco, a body charged with ensuring that clients and family members receive quality mental health services. She is an active member of the California Psychological Association's Board for Industrial/Organizational and Consulting Psychologists.


*Millstein SG, Halpern-Felsher BL. (2001). Perceptions of risk and vulnerability. In B Fischhoff, EO Nightingale, JG Iannotta Adolescent
Risk and Vulnerability: Concepts and Measurement. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press. Also reprinted in Journal of Adolescent Health
(2002), 31S:10-27.

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.  Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."
--Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

by moiv on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 10:47:01 PM EST

Keroack seems very much in the mold of other "faith-based" Bush regime appointments. These guys don't like either science or women.
Can It Happen Here?
by janinsanfran on Wed Nov 22, 2006 at 11:00:39 PM EST
to your post on the "Evangelical Initiatives/Women's Bodies" conference.

Jenna Gray-Hillenbrand of UC Santa Barbara described efforts by evangelical groups like the Family Research Council to prevent school systems from requiring mandatory vaccination of young girls against the HPV virus that is associated with cervical cancer.
Gray-Hillenbrand was careful to say she didn't want to demonize vaccination opponents. I have ask, why not? This is not a courtesy that they will offer you.

Amen, Sister Jan.

by moiv on Thu Nov 23, 2006 at 03:19:47 AM EST

Well, Dr. Keroquack, I would much rather be "demeaned" by taking a pill that would prevent me from becoming pregnant when I can't afford to be so than to be even more "demeaned" by facing a pregnancy that was unintended.

As for the whole "if you can't afford to have children, don't have sex" ideology goes, I am a married woman. Since you seem so fixated on the idea of sex being relegated solely to the marital relationship, what recourse have I? Doesn't your Christian doctrine say that I am to submit myself to my husband for sex at any time he so desires? We can't afford more children, so how do I "just say no" to my husband, while still being in line with your religious mandates?

by LynneK on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 12:47:53 PM EST

I was struck by the fact that he's somehow getting away with using those copyrighted characters, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, etc.  It seems to me that the owners of those images should be alerted to this unlawful usage.  Anyone have any idea how that can be done?

Just doing my bit to piss off the far right!

by Eyesbright on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:16:23 PM EST

I read that the Democratic party is fighting to keep him out of the position.

It is rather irritating that this guy is misusing the term "theory".  His IDEA (I might honor him by calling it a hypothesis- but he doesn't deserve it) has been demonstrated through two disciplines to be wrong.  He's supposed to be a scientist- and therefore should know the proper usage of the word.  What he's proposed has NOT been repeatedly tested (WITHOUT BEING DISPROVED) and generally accepted by the scientific community.

More pseudoscience bulls**t.

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