Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Double Life of Dr. Eric Keroack

Remember Dr. Eric Keroack, the so-called ob-gyn (his certification expired in 2005) who serves as the medical director of a "Christian pregnancy counseling center"; thinks contraceptives are "demeaning to women"; and promotes the idea that premarital sex "impairs" marital happiness by lowering oxytocin levels in the brain -- and whom Pres. Bush picked to head Health and Human Services' family planning program?

Well, he started his new job on Monday. And yesterday, one of his colleagues defended his professional integrity and competence by telling a WaPo reporter that Keroack has been prescribing contraceptives in his private practice for the last 20 years:

Despite his work for a Christian pregnancy counseling group that opposes contraception, the physician who yesterday began overseeing federal family-planning programs has prescribed birth control for his patients, a Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said.

Eric Keroack, a nationally known advocate of abstinence until marriage, served for more than a decade as medical director for A Woman's Concern, a Massachusetts nonprofit group that discourages abortion and does not distribute information promoting birth control. But HHS spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday that most of Keroack's professional time had been devoted to his private practice of 20 years, not the group.

"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.

Okay, I get it. Keroack leads a double life: In one, he runs a crisis pregnancy center that "helps women escape the temptation and violence of abortion." In his role as medical director of this center, he disseminates fraudulent science -- telling his patients, for example, that condoms are virtually useless as protection against sexually transmitted diseases; that abstinence until marriage is the only safe choice, not just for teens but for all women; that birth control degrades and demeans women; that sex outside marriage alters the brain chemistry and makes it physiologically difficult, if not impossible, for couples to be happily married.

In his other life, as an ob-gyn in private practice, Keroack is just fine with contraception, and has in fact been prescribing contraceptives to his patients for 20 years.

And this is intended to reassure us about Keroack's fitness to oversee federal funding and programming for family planning services for millions of American women?

Jackie Payne, director of government relations for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Keroack's record opposing birth control speaks for itself.

"The fact that he's the medical director of an organization that takes that position is, at best, hypocritical if he's doing something different in private practice," she said. "That's not the kind of advocate for birth control that we need. We need someone to head up the family-planning program who is wholeheartedly for family planning."

You gotta admire Pearson's doggedness, though: you gotta admit she's trying to stand by her man. Listen to her tell us why we shouldn't worry about Dr. Eric Keroack's lack of certification in his own medical specialty:

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."

That's nice. But I'm still puzzled here. How does one inadvertently miss the deadline to maintain a certification for a professional competency that one uses every day? And why are we being asked to trust an ob-gyn who lets his certification expire to run a huge federal agency entrusted with funding family planning services for American women?

1 comment:

Charlie Quimby said...

One answer might be that his second life is not quite as advertised.