Bush Ally Susan Orr Resigns Amid Controversy

Dr. Susan Orr, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Population Affairs and former Family Research Council staffer, stepped down today. A controversial appointee from the start, Dr. Orr had been in the position for less than a year.

Why so controversial? Her position oversees the administration of Title X, the only federal funding program providing contraceptive services to low-income women and men, but she had applauded President Bush’s proposal to eliminate the requirement that federal
employees’ health insurance provide coverage for a range of birth control methods, saying, "We’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It’s not a medical necessity that you have [contraception]."

Just last week Amie pointed out that the Family Research Council was heading up a group of conservative political groups all pressuring President Bush to cut Title X family planning funding for clinics who also provide abortion services — and their former employee, Dr. Orr, was the person to whom they made their request. Amie wrote, "Was this…strategy discussed with Susan Orr prior to the
letter they recently sent? Isn’t this a bit like the oil companies
setting energy policy with Dick Cheney?"

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association said in a statement:

NFPRHA members can breathe a sigh of relief because a known opponent of
access to contraception will no longer administer a program provides
comprehensive family planning services to low-income and uninsured

You can use this opportunity to make sure Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt knows how you feel about preserving Title X funding for low-income women and men by sending him a letter here.

You might also want to let President Bush know that he needs to make his next appointment to head this post a more appropriate one!

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  • anna-clark

    Any word on who might be Orr’s replacement? And has she or her office made any statement about why she’s leaving?

  • invalid-0

    that we know of. And her office has not made a statement yet about why she is leaving. The fact remains the Bush administration is still considering the Family Research Council (and its supposed coalition of 80 organizations) petition to severely restrict Title X funds. One would hope that Bush’s next appointment to this post would be someone who is:

    a) NOT a former employee of the Family Research Council and
    b) NOT opposed to contraception

    It’s just amazing that I even need to type those words!

    Thanks for the comment, Anna!

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Note: Orr is from that scary part of the right-wing that dislikes the state getting involved with abusive parents. She wants to privatize Children Protection Services and restrict it to an advisory role only. She dislikes mandatory reporting (which requires people who work with children to report suspicions of child abuse) because, she said, it encouraged unnecessary reporting and discouraged neighbors from directly helping. And the real spooky part: she was the head of Bush’s Children’s Bureau from 2001-2007, responsible for child abuse protection. Read about it here. Where was the uproar then?