Birth-Control Foe To Run Office on Family Planning

It sounds like an Onion headline, but it’s not.

Dr. Susan Orr is the new Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of The Office of Population Affairs — she’s also a staunch birth control opponent, a supporter of the Global Gag Rule, and former senior director for marriage and family care at the right-wing Family Research Council. According to RH Reality Check,

In 2001, when President Bush proposed eliminating the requirement that federal employees’ health insurance offer a range of options for birth control coverage, Dr. Orr, then the senior director for marriage and families at the Family Research Council 4, told the Washington Post, “We’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It’s not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”

The Family Research Council, her former place of employment, describes itself as:

The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.

and its core principles are:

* God exists and is sovereign over all creation. He created human beings in His image. Human life is, therefore, sacred and the right to life is the most fundamental of political rights.
* Life and love are inextricably linked and find their natural expression in the institutions of marriage and the family.
* Government has a duty to promote and protect marriage and family in law and public policy.
* The American system of law and justice was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic.
* American democracy depends upon a vibrant civil society composed of families, churches, schools, and voluntary associations.

Now that’s all fine and good, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want those values regulating my access to reproductive health care.

The FRC has some awfully funny definitions of “protecting women’s health.” They are opposed Plan B (the “morning-after” pill), calling it “A grave threat to women’s health” and packing their report with medically inaccurate information and testimony from anti-choice advocates. They opposed an FDA nominee when he didn’t cave to right-wing pressure and instead respected the consensus of the medical and scientific community that abortion does not lead to breast cancer. They claim that RU-486 (the abortion pill) poses a “serious threat to women’s health.” They equate contraception with abortion. They are decidedly anti-choice.

Dr. Orr herself authored a booklet called “Building a Culture of Life” for the organization. Her opposition to contraception may very well be tied to her disdain for single mothers and women who get divorced (she also wrote a paper called “Real Women Stay Married“).

She also toes the “pro-life” line when it comes to born children — that is, she doesn’t so much care about them.

Like domestic violence programs, child protection procedures blur the distinction between therapy and law enforcement, allowing social workers to exercise police functions. “Although spoken of in terms of social services,” writes Susan Orr, “the child-protection function of child welfare is essentially a police action.” Orr calls child protection “the most intrusive arm of social services.”

She also promotes limiting definitions of abuse and neglect. And did I mention that she was the Associate Commissioner for the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services when she was trying to limit the power to respond to child abuse?

Not to mention that birth control actually lowers the abortion rate and outlawing abortion kills women. So her anti-contraception stance isn’t particularly “pro-life.”

In other words, she is a scary lady.

Planned Parenthood helps you take action. And Womenstake of the National Women’s Law Center has more.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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32 Responses to Birth-Control Foe To Run Office on Family Planning

  1. ElleBeMe says:

    Where do they find these people?

    One thing is for certain – a tenet of Bush’s leagacy will be that he never appointed anyone who viewed women as people.

    This makes me so angry….

  2. DAS says:

    FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.

    FRC is partially right here. I certainly think implimenting key Levitical laws will allow for a just and free society, but I dunno how stable it would be. In fact, avoiding the stability of feudalism would be the very point … oh, wait a minute, when these FRC types refer to a “Judeo-Christian worldview” they aren’t talking about implimenting the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years nor about free loan societies nor about tithing to give to the poor nor about prohibiting gleaning by farmers so that the poor can glean nor about requiring day laborers to be paid promptly and fully …

    Remind me again what it is that they are talking about? Oh yes … teh hawt sex. They always are talking about teh hawt sex. And they accuse us liberals of being over-sexualized? Do they project much?

  3. cKate says:

    Oh dear. Things like this make my uterus and ovaries want to run away to Canada.

  4. Pingback: Think Progress » Bush Family Planning Appointee Called Contraceptives Part Of The ‘Culture Of Death’

  5. Eruvande says:

    Orr calls child protection “the most intrusive arm of social services.”

    That makes me throw up a little.

    Like George Carlin says, “if you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re pre-school, you’re fucked.” What the hell is these people’s problem with actual walking, breathing people?!

    I would like to see everyone who thinks this way be forced to adopt one of the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care. Oh wait, many of those are brown. Oops!

  6. norbizness says:

    Or, as they say in Texas, “the most terminally underfunded arm of social services so that hundreds of children die yearly from abuse or neglect.”

  7. Robin @ NWLC says:

    It’s funny — FRC refuses to use the words “family planning services” in their action alerts without quote marks around them.

    The Title X program is a critical part of our country’s health care safety net for low-income women, providing contraceptive care and other preventive health services to more than 5 million women each year. We’ll be watching to see what happens next with this appointment…

  8. preying mantis says:

    “Although spoken of in terms of social services,” writes Susan Orr, “the child-protection function of child welfare is essentially a police action.

    The only way I can see that statement making a bit of sense is if she sees CPS taking a child away from an abusive parent as CPS punishing the parent, not CPS protecting the child.

  9. annejumps says:

    Oh dear. Things like this make my uterus and ovaries want to run away to Canada.

    I know the feeling.

  10. ohsohappy says:

    Can you imagine the response if this proposal were related to pregnancy and child birth?

    “In 2001, when President Bush proposed eliminating the requirement that federal employees’ health insurance offer coverage for pregnancy and child birth, Dr. Orr, then the senior director for marriage and families at the Family Research Council 4, told the Washington Post, “We’re quite pleased because pregnancy is not a disease. It’s not a necessity that you have medical intervention in pregnancy and childbirth.

    Again, I say, they can pry my pills from my cold dead hands. I guarantee that me being pregnant for 40 weeks, and giving birth to a baby of any kind is going to cost my insurance company more than a monthly pack of pills. Hell, mine are covered right now, and until I hit my maximum out of pocket for the year I pay $60/month.

  11. micheyd says:

    The only way I can see that statement making a bit of sense is if she sees CPS taking a child away from an abusive parent as CPS punishing the parent, not CPS protecting the child.

    I interpreted it this way: these people are all about “not breaking up families” – which to them, means keeping a family absolutely together no matter what. Abuse isn’t a big deal. Same kind of attitude that rails against feminists for setting up DV shelters because it “causes” women to run away from their husbands.

  12. Aishwarya says:

    The only way I can see that statement making a bit of sense is if she sees CPS taking a child away from an abusive parent as CPS punishing the parent, not CPS protecting the child.

    …well considering banning abortion often seems more about punishing the mother, not saving the foetus,I suppose this is logical.

  13. ohsohappy says:

    I left out part of what I meant to say, which is that there are services covered which aren’t considered ‘diseases’. Pregnancy and child birth were the first to come to mind, but there are others.

    I guess my thought is “This is one scary person” if she was happy that something has to be a disease to be covered. Especially since there’s that one contraceptive option that had other benefits as well. You know, the Pill?

  14. SoE says:

    Like domestic violence programs, child protection procedures blur the distinction between therapy and law enforcement, allowing social workers to exercise police functions.

    I so want to see her going to a mum and her kids saying that she should have stayed married and being beaten up and raped on a daily basis cannot possibly have been that bad.

    Has she ever met real people?

  15. NoOneYouKnow says:

    And she’s probably been married three times, has no kids, and likes to take long solo junkets to Atlantic City…

    “Oh dear. Things like this make my uterus and ovaries want to run away to Canada.”
    Those poor Canadian border guards.

  16. redgirl says:

    ohsohappy, you hit the nail on the head. Insurance covers plenty of non-necessary options. (Viagra, anyone?) Including pregnancy, which certainly isn’t necessary for your survival or health.

    Also, birth control can absolutely be medically necessary. I know two women who were put on months of bedrest during pregnancy, who were told by their doctors that they MUST not get pregnant again because it was likely to kill them. I guess Orr is saying that these happily married women and their husbands should commit to a life of celibacy, because that’s the only other option besides birth control.

  17. Ailei says:

    My question, as always, is: “Doctor Orr, why are you not home cranking out babies and keeping house and fulfilling your god-mandated purpose? You don’t belong in the public sphere, so get back to doing what god says you should be doing, and stop displaying yourself to men who aren’t your husband, father, brother or son, you filthy, upstart slattern!”

  18. ohsohappy says:

    And the married, non-contraceptive using, celibate couple is such a realistic situation.

  19. Em says:

    Oh, but redgirl, ED is a disorder. Penii are to be hard on command, every time. It’s only natural. If they’re not, they must be fixed!

  20. tannenburg says:

    It’s constantly amazing to me that an Administration so patently unpopular continues to make arrogant choices which run contrary to the sympathies of the vast majority of the people…but perhaps they have a feeling of millenarian fatalism, slinging one last stone in defense of their ideals, martyring themselves for the cause.

    I can only hope, in a perverse way, that they continue to make such choices in the hope that they will discredit themselves and their allies so thoroughly that their cause will be hopelessly unpopular for at least a generation.

  21. See a tongue-in-cheek list of the top ten reasons George Bush appointed Susan Orr…here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com

  22. akshelby says:

    I read the paper Jill linked to regarding social services. She thinks social services should only get involved in cases where there was criminal behavior, i.e. severe abuse and neglect. She thinks that surprise, surprise – families with non-criminal behavior can get services from charitable religious agencies for help with parenting and drug and alcohol problems. Without state interventions she sees them as more likely to want to get help. She has obviously never worked in the social services field. The majority of people that social services works with are people who do not want help with their parenting issues since they don’t see themselves as having any problems. She also believes that people who abuse and neglect their children should be punished rather than rehabilitated. She is definitely pro-fetus, anti-child and anti-family.

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  29. TinaH says:

    And the married, non-contraceptive using, celibate couple is such a realistic situation.

    Actually, that first year after the kid is born, when sleep is SO much more important than makin’ whoopie…

    ;-)

  30. Sharon M says:

    George Bush Sr. was one of the authors expanding Title X funding in the Nixon adminsitration. His nick name was “Rubbers”, he was so passionate about family planning. I read it in a book called The War on Choice, by Gloria Feldt, former Planned Parenthood director. I think this is another nail in the coffin of the Reich-Wing.

  31. nem0 says:

    “It’s not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”

    No, of course not. There are no medical conditions where contraception can inexpensively help protect a person from severe pain, distorted anatomy, or even (GASP!) infertility. Because conditions like endometriosis and PCOS are all in a woman’s head. She just needs to pray more and stop pissing off the sky daddy.

    But heavens forbid a man can’t get a boner. The state better step in and fix that lickety-split!

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