Bush appointee must think women are cows

When I was 25, the state of Nevada paid for my tubal ligation. A few medical professionals felt it their duty to warn me that I was awfully young. Though I’d just given birth to my fifth baby, I might want to have more kids later in life.

“What if you lost all your children in a fire?” a nurse said.

“Guess I’d adopt,” I said.

People are silly.

So it is that Bush appointed Dr. Eric Keroack as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs. Keroack, director of an antiabortion counseling center that won’t distribute or encourage contraceptives—not even to married couples, will run Title X, the nation’s family planning program. Title X provides family planning services to 5 million low-income individuals, thus helping women avoid around a million unintended pregnancies annually.

That’s why Keroack is a ridiculous—even dangerous—appointee for the position. His unscientific views include the idea that the use of contraception actually increases pregnancy—a bold lie. Stats and studies, including a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, show that contraception works, when it’s available and used properly. More than 75 percent of abortions occur in developing nations, where birth control isn’t widely available. These abortions, often clandestine, are unsafe and can be fatal.

Yet Keroack’s pregnancy center, “A Woman’s Concern,” contends that “the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women.”

Ouch. By Keroack’s logic, women (married or otherwise) either have to develop a propensity for headaches or pop out as many infants as we can in our short 30-year reproductive careers.

As I’m a healthy breeder, I’d now have between 15-20 kids—instead of merely five.

I was an early bloomer. Before my 18th birthday, I’d graduated early from high school, started college, given birth to a gorgeous baby boy, gotten married and joined a Baptist church. Birth control wasn’t verboten, but big families were encouraged.

While listening to Focus on the Family programs on Christian radio stations, I encountered misinformation: Intrauterine devices were abortifacients (products that induced abortions) and therefore God hated them. Birth control pills were iffy—some labeled them abortifacients as well.

In seven years, my husband and I had five babies. We couldn’t afford five children. I signed up for food stamps, WIC, low-income housing and Medicaid. I dropped out of college. My kids wore donated hand-me-downs. I stood in line for free government surplus commodities.

Yet friends insisted that using birth control robbed God of His power over my life. “God will not give you any more children than you can handle,” one man counseled me during a Bible study. “Just trust Him.”

This sentiment wasn’t universally shared in the church. One Sunday morning, as I breastfed No. 4 in the church nursery, I related the “God won’t give me more than I can handle” line to a mother of two teens.

She frowned at me.

“God also gave you common sense,” she said.

I latched on to those life-changing words. I deeply loved and appreciated each of my babies. But five was enough.

A 2004 study on family planning showed that 43 million U.S. women of reproductive age are sexually active, don’t want a child yet but could get pregnant without using contraception. The average U.S. woman wants only two children. That means using birth control for about three decades.

The appointment of a narrow-minded man like Keroack to run Title X is an insult to me and all women who struggle with planning our families and our lives.

I’d like to see Keroack pop out a baby every year or so for three decades. You’d love the stretch marks, doc. And standing in line for free cheese.