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Barefoot And Pregnant, Here We Come!
National family planning chief needed? Well, who's the fundamentalist, anti-science Bush administration gonna call...but a doctor who talks made-up, unpublished, un-peer-reviewed mumbo jumbo instead of science.

The guy's name is Eric Keroack, and he's an ob-gyn (scary!) who runs "A Woman's Concern," a "Christian pregnancy-counseling organization." What's that? Well, listen to his view on birth control, in this Washington Post story by Christopher Lee, and you'll get the gist:

"A Woman's Concern is persuaded that the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness," the group's Web site says.

Then, there's an example of what a moron the guy is -- a moron spouting off from his unpublished peer-reviewed nuttery on oxytocin-- with fisking posted on an Alternet story by a neuroendocrinology researcher. Here's the idiocy by Keroack:

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.

FYI, I have corresponded with the guy who left the comment, and he IS, indeed, a neuroendocrinology researcher:

I am actually a neuroendocrinology researcher at U of Colorado in Boulder.

I am reading through this man's report... I don't even know where to start! I can't believe this person has an MD.

The "superior region of the hippocampus" is a "bonding center of the brain" and that "damage" can lead to "pornography"?!

There's no such thing as a "superior region of the hippocampus" and if there were, it certainly is not involved in "bonding"... it's a center for learning and memory consolidation!

I can't wait to sit down and read the whole thing, this is better than the comics or even the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal!

Here's a later post by the same researcher:

You really could do a critique of the linked presentations almost slide by slide. But to make the most obvious critique you don't need to know much about science: how does the body know the difference between pre-marital and marital sex? The gist of his argument is that you can "burn out" oxytocin... but is there a cellular difference among long term relationship sex and marital sex? How about common law marriage sex? It's silly.

Also, he talks about oxytocin like it's this magic bullet. These are very complex systems; bonding and love are complex things! Obviously, there's more to it than one hormone.

But you'd think that a guy who talks so much about oxytocin would know something about it! In the power-point slide he says early on that oxytocin does not cross the blood-brain barrier. This is true. Then he talks about some experiments (the only citation he gives is a country's name- like "Germany") where oxytocin was "administered" to patients and they see a brain effect. Huh? It can't cross the blood-brain barrier! So what does "administered" mean? Injected directly into the brain? Nonsense.

The blood-brain barrier is the way our body keeps certain substances out of our very sensitive brains. Normally, in the periphery (rest of the body), there are tiny gaps in the capillaries, between epithelial cells. Not so in the brain- the capillaries are sealed up. So, to get through blood vessel membranes in the brain and into actual brain tissue, a molecule has to be lipid soluble. Peptides are not lipid soluble. So you could inject a gallon of this stuff into your veins and not one molecule of it will reach the brain.

Oxytocin is a hormonal peptide, meaning it is made up of amino acids. If you swallowed a pill made of it, it would get digested. Your body wouldn't know if those amino acids came from an oxytocin pill or a steak. (This is why those infomercials talking about how gonadotrophic releasing hormone pills will give you better erections are bunk. That hormone will get broken down by the proteases in your digestive system.)

Short of injecting it through the skull and directly into the brain, you cannot get oxytocin into the amygdala and demonstrate that it reduced "fear", as he claims.

And that's a critique of just one slide!

Moreover, I looked at Keroack's PDF about oxytocin -- in which Mr. Morality apparently STEALS the work of a number of cartoonists; most notably that of Gary Larson...who writes about how painful it is to have his work hijacked and used without permission or payment here. I didn't get around to e-mailing Creators, my syndicator and his, but I will on Monday.

Unfortunately, I'm on double-deadline for the American holiday of Thanksgiving (an explanatory note for my readers from across the pond), so I didn't get to go through the PDF all that comprehensively. But here's a screenshot from it that I pulled as I skimmed it:

Keroack.jpg

Naturally, Keroack gives zero evidence that any of these are actually any more than made-up notions, and he leaves out the biggie in "damage to bonding ability" -- from John Bowlby, an "attachment disorder."

This guy Keroack is:

1. A doctor?
2. In charge of our federal family planning program?

Sheesh. A quote from the Washington Post story linked above:

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called Keroack's appointment "striking proof that the Bush administration remains dramatically out of step with the nation's priorities."

Yep, that's about the size of it.

And, finally, I just want to thank all my friends who sighed big exasperated sighs when I said electing Bush was too dangerous vis a vis a woman's right to not be a baby pod. Slippery slope look any steeper these days? Yeah, to me, too.

Posted by aalkon at November 18, 2006 11:44 AM

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Comments

Relax.

Posted by: Crid at November 18, 2006 7:09 AM

Why?

Should our policy really be made by doctor-eaucrats who show a better grasp on church policy than science, and have an agenda that is anything but secular and data-based?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 9:29 AM

I guess Bush is trying to salvage some support from the sanctimonious base that he disses in private. I honestly don't think you have anything to worry too much about. We've had a Republican controlled everything for the last six years, yet abortion is still a right. Republicans know, I believe, that the minute abortion gets the axe is the minute they are not only voted out, but gone the way of the passenger pigeon and the dinosaur.

Posted by: Patrick at November 18, 2006 1:48 PM

Thanks for your half-assed attempt at comforting poor widdle Amy, Patrick. I'd like to remind you that this won't just affect abortion rights, but also comprehensive, accurate sex education, federal funding for necessary clnic procedures, and quick and safe access to contraceptives and Plan B. There's a lot more at stake here than you're willing to admit, although I'm not surprised. Most guys just shrug and go "oh, too bad" when something like this happens. Hopefully soon you'll be the one over the barrel with an unwanted dependent to support.

Posted by: amh18057 at November 18, 2006 1:58 PM

Nov. 18, 2006: PS on Keroack

I just caught up with the raging debate in the Corner over Eric Keroack's appointment as chief of famliy planning programs at HHS. I blush to admit it, but it is news to me that the federal government spends $283 million per year "to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information to all who want and need them with priority given to low-income persons." A quick check reveals that all who want and need contraceptives, yes even low-income persons, can buy a 36-pack of Trojans for 10 bucks. Even for the busiest couple, that's at least a month's supply. Is there really anybody in America who cannot afford a maximum of $120 per year to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?

So let me rephrase K-Lo's controversy provoking question: Why do we need federal family planning services - or a federal family planning budget - or a chief administrator to oversee this budget at all?
Posted at 10:50 AM

http://frum.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZmI4YWRmOGI4Njg5NzE1MWM2ZGQ1MTM4NGU0NDZiODc=

Posted by: jrdroll at November 18, 2006 3:39 PM

I don't disagree with you, but I don't see that phony-ass "conservative," George Fundamentalist Bush, doing any disbanding of offices like this. Not only does he keep the office intact, he puts in a guy who makes decisions, not based in solid science, but in made-up "studies" that aren't published or peer-reviewed, but merely sit on his computer read to serve up to the gullible...who think being an M.D. means having some scientific or intellectual authority.

So...in 2006, we're running our government based on primitive bullshit from the primitive book called the Bible, and we have doctors in positions of power who might as well be wearing a loincloth and dancing around a fire for all their opinions are worth.

This is conservatism? This is good government? This is wise and modern public policy?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 4:27 PM

Yes, there's a reason why Americans still have enough babies to replenish the population. If your person was in charge though, we'd have a replacement rate of 1.36 child per women if we were lucky, and Americans would go extinct in a century.

Posted by: Mark James at November 18, 2006 4:55 PM

"A quick check reveals that all who want and need contraceptives, yes even low-income persons, can buy a 36-pack of Trojans for 10 bucks."

Condoms only work when men put them on before having sex. There are too many women who either do not or cannot insist that the men who have sex with them, wear condoms.

"If your person was in charge though, we'd have a replacement rate of 1.36 child per women if we were lucky, and Americans would go extinct in a century."

So what?

Posted by: Michelle at November 18, 2006 8:39 PM

Amy, don't hang this on the "primitive" Bible. Stupidity and incompetence predate every religion on the planet. And that's what this is.

Posted by: Dave Reese at November 18, 2006 8:43 PM

And perhaps the office exists to encourage condom use, not just to provide them. To encourage responsible sexuality. We certainly need that. The U.S. has, I believe, the highest rate of unplanned pregnancies of civilized countries.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 9:19 PM

Here's a link to a piece from Salon:

http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2006/05/04/contraception/index.html

The contraception connection

The current crackdown on contraception and rise in deep-in-denial abstinence-only education don't just boost the U.S. abortion rate. According to a report (PDF) released today by the very great Guttmacher Institute, the anti-contraception crusade particularly contributes to the rise in unplanned pregnancies (and thus, abortions) among poor women.

It makes sense: As federal and state funding for family-planning services declines, women without health insurance are less likely to have access to contraceptives. (Even women with health insurance have no guarantee that their contraceptives will be covered in many states.) Since "poor women are twice as likely as women overall to lack health insurance," the Guttmacher folks report, they're also more likely to lack reliable access to contraception.

The result? "Between 1994 and 2001, the rate of unintended pregnancy increased by 29 percent among U.S. women whose income was below the poverty line, while it decreased 20 percent among women with incomes at least twice the federal poverty level," a Guttmacher press release summarizes. The kicker, as reader Chris M. pointed out on Wednesday, is that the GOP campaign to strip away the country's social safety net contributes to the poverty rate, which in turn contributes to the abortion rate: "Republicans cause abortions by causing pregnancies (fighting contraception) and making those pregnancies unwanted (making it economically impossible to support children)."

It gets no better from there. If you're a poor and uninsured woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, you're also less likely to have the money for or access to speedy abortion services. And, our Guttmacher friends continue, policymakers' "punitive approach" to unplanned pregnancy -- restricting access to abortion services -- tends to result in later abortions, not fewer abortions...

Dave, I believe the guy is a Christian, and much of our dumb public policy like this comes on an express train out of The Bible.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 9:21 PM

To put a fine point on the above-referenced article (and expand beyond the years it references) - since "W" has been in office, the abortion rate has increased.

Posted by: Michelle at November 18, 2006 10:12 PM

Not a surprise, considering their Christianity-based (as opposed to data-based) abstinence program. I read that kids do wait -- a year and a half, I think -- to have sex, but then are unprepared...as in, no birth control. I mean, if you take a pledge of chastity, are you walking around with a condom in your wallet? Of course not...so about nine months later, maybe you're walking around a 15-year-old daddy.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 10:25 PM

This whole 'we're going to be extinct thing' is such a load of crap that I can't even believe anyone still says it. Yeah we're going to be extinct someday, but it won't be because smart people who don't want parasites, I mean kids, aren't forced to have them. I did a paper on abstinence only education and yes, not only do they not use protection when the start having sex, but they're so ridiculously uneducated about basic information that they believe whatever bullshit they hear. For instance, that you got an std from having butt sex, not from your loser boyfriend cheating on you. Or that being gay is contagious. American youths are stupid all by themselves; do we really want to feed them misleading and downright inaccuracte information on top of it? If you don't think this is a problem and that our rights aren't being threatened, you just aren't paying attention. Not everyone is going to be reasonable and protect themselves. Should children be a punishment for being dumb?

Posted by: christina at November 18, 2006 11:47 PM

This whole 'we're going to be extinct thing' is such a load of crap that I can't even believe anyone still says it. Yeah we're going to be extinct someday, but it won't be because smart people who don't want parasites, I mean kids, aren't forced to have them. I did a paper on abstinence only education and yes, not only do they not use protection when the start having sex, but they're so ridiculously uneducated about basic information that they believe whatever bullshit they hear. For instance, that you got an std from having butt sex, not from your loser boyfriend cheating on you. Or that being gay is contagious. American youths are stupid all by themselves; do we really want to feed them misleading and downright inaccuracte information on top of it? If you don't think this is a problem and that our rights aren't being threatened, you just aren't paying attention. Not everyone is going to be reasonable and protect themselves. Should children be a punishment for being dumb?

Posted by: christina at November 18, 2006 11:48 PM

amh18057 writes:

Thanks for your half-assed attempt at comforting poor widdle Amy, Patrick. I'd like to remind you that this won't just affect abortion rights, but also comprehensive, accurate sex education, federal funding for necessary clnic procedures, and quick and safe access to contraceptives and Plan B. There's a lot more at stake here than you're willing to admit, although I'm not surprised. Most guys just shrug and go "oh, too bad" when something like this happens. Hopefully soon you'll be the one over the barrel with an unwanted dependent to support.

I was addressing one aspect of the discussion, since the thread title was "barefoot and pregnant, here we come." I'm perfectly willing to concede your points about sex education, etc. Never said I was not "willing to admit" anything.

As for finding myself "over a barrel with an unwanted dependent to support," as most people already know about me on this board, I'm a homosexual and I'm not even faintly interested in what sleeping with a woman is like. So, by all means, hold your breath waiting for that day that you're looking forward to. I never wished ill on you. Too bad you did to me and decided for me what I'm "willing to admit" or believe.

So, go Cheney yourself, skank.

Posted by: Patrick at November 19, 2006 12:36 AM

amh18057 writes:

Thanks for your half-assed attempt at comforting poor widdle Amy, Patrick. I'd like to remind you that this won't just affect abortion rights, but also comprehensive, accurate sex education, federal funding for necessary clnic procedures, and quick and safe access to contraceptives and Plan B. There's a lot more at stake here than you're willing to admit, although I'm not surprised. Most guys just shrug and go "oh, too bad" when something like this happens. Hopefully soon you'll be the one over the barrel with an unwanted dependent to support.

I was addressing one aspect of the discussion, since the thread title was "barefoot and pregnant, here we come." I'm perfectly willing to concede your points about sex education, etc. Never said I was not "willing to admit" anything.

As for finding myself "over a barrel with an unwanted dependent to support," as most people already know about me on this board, I'm a homosexual and I'm not even faintly interested in what sleeping with a woman is like. So, by all means, hold your breath waiting for that day that you're looking forward to. I never wished ill on you. Too bad you did to me and decided for me what I'm "willing to admit" or believe.

So, go Cheney yourself, skank.

Posted by: Patrick at November 19, 2006 12:37 AM

*rolls eyes* Thanks for that well-thought-out rebuttal, faggot. I like how you assume I'm a skanky hetero. Your reaction is sadly typical."So what if this guy's appointed? It's not *that* big of a deal." Remember, Keroack's organization also teaches that homosexuality is disordered, a lifestyle "choice," and that sexual orientation can be changed. But, I suppose you won't care if that dogma is taught in public schools (for which you and other taxpayers are footing the bill). I mean, it's really not that big of a deal, right? Let's just condemn another generation of young people to misleading, harmful "education" because we're too fucking apathetic to do anything about it.

Posted by: amh18057 at November 19, 2006 9:44 AM

amh18057 writes:

*rolls eyes* Thanks for that well-thought-out rebuttal, faggot. I like how you assume I'm a skanky hetero. Your reaction is sadly typical."So what if this guy's appointed? It's not *that* big of a deal." Remember, Keroack's organization also teaches that homosexuality is disordered, a lifestyle "choice," and that sexual orientation can be changed. But, I suppose you won't care if that dogma is taught in public schools (for which you and other taxpayers are footing the bill). I mean, it's really not that big of a deal, right? Let's just condemn another generation of young people to misleading, harmful "education" because we're too fucking apathetic to do anything about it.

I don't recall seeing you on this blog before today. If you were a regular here, you would know that I'm gay, and I'm not the only gay who frequents this blog.

But before I address anything else, I'm faintly curious. Do you always claim to know what people believe or assume in absence of evidence, like say, that I actually said what you seem to think I did? I never said that abortion was the only thing to be concerned about. But you seem to think that there's more at stake than I'm willing to admit. What have I failed to admit? I've conceded every point of concern you made. I chose only to speak specifically to abortion; you assumed that I was unwilling to admit that there were other issues involved. Surprise, surprise. I'm quite willing to admit them. I won't hold my breath waiting for you to admit you misrepresented me and made a mistake.

And now you're doing it again. "I like how you assume I'm a skanky hetero."

I called you a skank. Where did I say you were a hetero? Another unfounded assumption.

Who are you quoting, by the way, when you say, "'So what if this guy's appointed. It's not *that* big of a deal.'"

Not me, I can assure you, since I never said that. I don't feel the need to use asterisks for emphasis, since I know the basics of HTML coding, and place emphasis however I like. If you're going to continue to lie about what I've said, believe, etc., I'm simply going to stop speaking to you. And since I'm the only one that's deigned to reply to you at all, your experience here is apt to get pretty boring.

And you'll have to forgive me for not getting worked up over what Keroack teaches about homosexuality, but those errant "teachings" are older than I am. It doesn't make sense to suddenly get worked up over something I've been hearing my whole life.

And with that, go Cheney yourself, skank. (You'll notice that "hetero" was not part of that insult. Or maybe you won't. You didn't seem to notice that the first time.)

Posted by: Patrick at November 19, 2006 10:32 AM

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