Last week, the Bush administration quietly appointed Eric Keroack to oversee federal family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. Keroack is a nationally known advocate of abstinence until marriage who has worked for a Christian pregnancy counseling group that opposes contraception.
To defend Keroack, the administration has repeatedly referred to his professional experience as a doctor:
An HHS spokeswoman said Keroack is a skilled doctor and a nationally recognized expert on preventing teenage pregnancy. “We have confidence that he’ll perform his duties effectively and in accordance with the law,” HHS spokeswoman Christina Pearson said by e-mail.
John O. Agwunobi, assistant secretary for health, said Keroack “is highly qualified and a well-respected physician…working primarily with women and girls in crisis.”
In fact, Keroack is not a board-certified physician. Buried at the bottom of an article in today’s Washington Post:
[HHS spokeswoman Christina] 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.”
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and 12 other senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt yesterday urging him to withdraw Keroack’s appointment. “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. (See the letter here.)
More at Feministing.
UPDATE: The title was updated to reflect the fact that Keroack is still a doctor who is not certified.