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'Stealth' Bush Appointee Worries About Wayward Wives

The Religious Right's man in Boston is set to become Bush's man for the nation ...
 
 
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He's a favorite guest speaker at meetings of the National Right to Life Committee. He's on the medical advisory council for the notorious Leslee Unruh's National Abstinence Clearinghouse, whence he expounds on such topics as the physical and emotional consequences of premarital sex.

He teaches that there is a physiological cause [pdf link] for relationship failure and sexual promiscuity -- a hormonal cause-and-effect that can only be short-circuited by sexual abstinence until marriage. ( Editor's note: The following images, except when otherwise noted, are from the PowerPoint presentation described and linked to above .)
He's the full-time medical director for A Woman's Concern, a chain of Boston area crisis pregnancy centers, where he spreads all the usual lies about abortion and uses ultrasound scans as a tool to influence the decisions of women who might be considering abortion.

He was one of the "experts" who determined that federally funded abstinence education programs must mention contraceptives only in relation to their failure rates and promote abstinence until marriage.
Now, in what has been characterized as a "stealth" appointment by the Bush administration, we hear that Dr. Eric Keroack is set to assume a new post as the deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. The DASPA oversees a number of Health and Human Services programs, including the Office of Family Planning.
Keroack works his heart out for the Christian right. And it appears that, as of Monday morning, he'll be working for us, too.

Last June, Keroack was a featured speaker at the 10th Annual International Abstinence Leadership Conference in Kansas City, where he provided his somewhat unorthodox insights into the role of hormones in relationship failure.

Oxytocin is a hormone whose actions are associated with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and maternal-infant bonding -- and, according to Keroack, it's the tie that binds in marriage, as well. People don't fall in love, but into hormonal bondage. Therefore, the most important rationale for sexual abstinence isn't faith-based at all, but purely physiological. Unfaithful men and promiscuous women are created by misuse of the "emotional glue" of attraction, an abuse leading to a "perpetual cycle of misery."

In his presentation at the 10th Annual Abstinence Leadership Conference in Kansas City earlier this month, Dr. Eric Keroack ... explained that oxytocin is released during positive social interaction, massage, hugs, "trust" encounters, and sexual intercourse. "It promotes bonding by reducing fear and anxiety in social settings, increasing trust and trustworthiness, reducing stress and pain, and decreasing social aggression," he said.

Forty percent of couples who live together break up before they marry and of the 60 percent that do marry, 40 percent of them divorce after 10 years. ... So why do so many adults continue in a cycle of sex without a marriage commitment, cohabitation, and failed relationships? This perpetual cycle of misery is due largely to the role of oxytocin. The following is Dr. Keroack's explanation of the cycle:

Emotional pain causes our bodies to produce an elevated level of endorphins which in turn lowers the level of oxytocin. Therefore, relationship failure leads to pain which leads to elevated endorphins which leads to lower oxytocin, the result of which is a lower ability to bond. Many in this increased state of emotional pain and lower oxytocin seek sex as a substitute for love, which inevitably leads to another failed relationship, and so on, the cycle continues.

There is hope for the weary brokenhearted, Dr. Keroack said, but it requires abstinence and plenty of time for healing.

Keroack's fitting title for that novel presentation [PowerPoint link] was "If I Only Had a Brain." In an unpublished article that has become an established text of the abstinence movement, he wrote, "People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual." Keroack's teaching on the role of "God's 'super-glue'" is accepted as irrefutable in an article titled Fornication and Oxytocin.


In women, a more positive relationship with her mate is associated with higher levels of oxytocin. This suggests that a woman's previous sexual relationships can alter the release of the biochemical "super-glue." If a woman's sexual history is sufficiently adverse, she will lose her ability to bond in the current relationship. An interesting finding in oxytocin research is the likelihood that oxytocin inhibits the development of tolerance in the brain's opiate receptors. The excitement of sex is partly credited to endorphins exciting opiate receptors. As a human relationship matures, fewer endorphins are released. If sexual relationships are well bonded, though, the oxytocin response maintains the excitement despite how few endorphins are released. This keeps excitement present between oxytocin-bonded couples. In the same way, though, these studies reveal the rationale behind an inability of some to stay bonded in seemingly good relationships. People who have misused sex to become bonded with multiple persons will diminish their oxytocin bonding within their current relationship. In the absence of oxytocin, the person will find less or no excitement. The person will then feel the need to move on to what looks more exciting.

Medical Information provided by: "Bonding Imperative," (a special report from the Abstinence Medical Council) by Eric J. Keroack, M.D., FACOG and John R. Diggs Jr., M.D.

The article speculates that "the science is still new, and more must be learned concerning the role of oxytocin in human bonding," but the inescapable conclusion is that keeping a woman abstinent until she walks down the aisle is the best way to keep her faithful after the honeymoon's over.

At Brandeis University's 2002 Christian Awareness Week, Keroack presented the grim vision of human sexuality that he brings with him to the agency that directs the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs.

Eric Keroack, medical director of A Woman's Concern Health Centers, a pro-life counseling organization, said sexual activity today is comparable to warfare.

"Sexual activity is a war zone," he said. "What we have is this ongoing war. So we're constantly coming up with better equipment," he said, referring to contraceptive strategies and abortions.

"And the truth is that somewhere along the way people die in war," Keroack added. He acknowledged that deaths from abortion-related complications are rare, but that "they die emotionally."

Knowing how Keroack feels about sex unsanctioned by marriage should have prepared us for his expert medical opinion of birth control. And he also has helped to pioneer the use of ultrasound as a high-tech weapon in the war on abortion.

Focus on the Family applauds Keroack's use of ultrasound to influence women whom Keoack describes as "abortion vulnerable." As medical director of five Boston-area crisis pregnancy centers, Keroack oversees ultrasound scans that he says help to provide "informed consent" for abortion procedures, even though their admitted purpose is to prevent those procedures from ever taking place.

[T]he odds that an unborn child will be brought to term, rather than aborted, can be very nearly inverted by an ultrasound examination, according to a study undertaken by A Woman's Concern, a group of crisis-pregnancy centers in eastern Massachusetts. Before introducing routine ultrasound examinations for the women who visited their centers, A Woman's Concern (AWC) found that 61 percent of the women classified by counselors as "abortion-vulnerable" would opt for abortion prior to an ultrasound examination, while 33.7 percent would choose to carry the pregnancy to term. Once ultrasound examinations were provided, 63.5 percent of the same "abortion-vulnerable" women decided to continue their pregnancies, and only 24.5 percent chose abortion.

Like most other CPCs, AWC was established to serve women who are alarmed by the prospect of pregnancy, and actively considering abortion. At the centers, trained counselors do their best to provide moral guidance and support to women who are often facing objectively horrific situations.

But in many cases, the best efforts of AWC counselors are not enough to change a woman's mind. For the first several years of the organization's existence, roughly two-thirds of the women who entered an AWC center planning to procure an abortion carried through with that plan.

The results of ... ultrasound examinations, beginning in 2000, were so impressive that AWC soon adopted "the medical model" for all five centers. ... The results of the ultrasound examination are assessed by AWC's medical director, Dr. Eric Keroack, a board-certified ob/gyn.

For crisis-pregnancy centers, the AWC study suggests that investment in ultrasound equipment -- and qualified medical personnel handle that equipment -- could be the most effective way to drive down the number of abortions. Women facing problem pregnancies have no reason not to accept the offer of a free ultrasound test, and the results of that offer could be dramatic.

As detailed in the article quoted above, the AWC centers directed by Keroack delay women's access to abortion care by suggesting to them that early miscarriages are common, that they could have an ectopic pregnancy or a blighted ovum, and that it would be best to wait a few weeks before making an appointment for an abortion: "For the CPC counselors, meanwhile, the extra two to three weeks provide another opportunity to persuade the woman that she should continue her pregnancy. And if the process calls for a follow-up ultrasound examination, there is one more opportunity for the mother to bond with her unborn child."

Aside from emerging evidence of the damaging effects of repeated, prolonged and unnecessary ultrasound exposure upon a developing fetus, professional medical organizations have ethical concerns about nonmedical uses of ultrasound technology.

Professional organizations such as the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), Society for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS), American College of Radiology (ACR) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have clarified statements on ultrasound's nonmedical use. "These statements support the use of sonography for medical diagnostic purposes," says Stephanie Ellingson, M.S., RDMS, RDCS, RVT, RT(R), director of the diagnostic medical sonography program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. "That is very different from a nondiagnostic image created and shared specifically with the purpose of influencing a patient's decision."

Not surprisingly, this same unpublished "study" by Keroack has been used to advance proposed legislation to purchase ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers with federal funds -- bills such as the Pregnant Women Support Act inspired by the Trojan donkeys of Democrats for Life of America, whose legislative initiative boasts the full support of the Christian right. And why not, when its abortion-reducing initiatives consist of funding CPCs and imposing restrictive federal regulation upon doctors who provide abortion care, while excluding all support for access to contraception?

Dr. Eric Keroack has compiled quite a record as the Christian right's man in Boston. He now seems set to become their man in Washington, D.C. -- and ours as well, whether we want him or not.

 
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