Bush Family Planning Appointee Who Called Contraceptives Part Of The ‘Culture Of Death’ Resigns

Last October, President Bush appointed Susan Orr to oversee federal family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Orr, who previously directed HHS child welfare programs, was touted by the administration as “highly qualified.”

But after less than a year on the job, Orr has resigned. From a statement by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (via RH Reality Check):

We are certainly relieved that a known opponent of access to contraception like Dr. Susan Orr is resigning from her position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA), the position which oversees the only dedicated federal program for family planning services for low-income and uninsured people.

ThinkProgress spoke to HHS spokeswoman Jennifer Koentop today, who confirmed that Orr has stepped down.


From the beginning, Orr was controversial, with her strongest credentials seemingly being her support for failed abstinence-only policies. Lawmakers immediately wrote to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt and urged him to reconsider the appointment. Before joining HHS, Orr served as senior director for marriage and family care at the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) and was an adjunct professor at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. A look at her past record:

– In a 2001, Orr embraced a Bush administration proposal to “stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees” to cover a broad range of birth control. “We’re quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease,” said Orr.

– In a 2000 Weekly Standard article, Orr railed against requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptives. “It’s not about choice,” said Orr. “It’s not about health care. It’s about making everyone collaborators with the culture of death.

Orr authored a paper in 2000 titled, “Real Women Stay Married.” In it she wrote that women should “think about focusing our eyes, not upon ourselves, but upon the families we form through marriage.”

More recently, Orr’s former employer, FRC, has been pressuring the Bush administration to restrict federal funding for family planning centers. Conveniently, Orr oversaw this funding.