Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Love: I'm Sticking with You

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Love: I'm Sticking with You

Article excerpt

It's abstinence rather than absence that makes the heart grow fonder, or so a controversial Bush appointee is telling the adolescents of America, and trying to back it with some puzzling "love" science.

Dr Eric Keroack is the chief of family planning programmes at the US department of health and human services. When, last November, President Bush appointed the obstetrician, known for his anti-abortion work and advocacy of abstinence, there was a collective gasp of disbelief from pro-choice advocates.

With an annual budget of $283m, Keroack will oversee federally funded programmes related to teenage pregnancy education. A stated aim of the family planning programme is "to provide access to contraceptive supplies and information". How could a man who has publicly said that he believes distributing contraception is demeaning to women carry out this work?

But it is not just his provocative politics that worry critics. They are also concerned about Keroack's grasp of science and his scientific theories of love. He has written that having premarital sex with multiple partners alters brain chemistry, specifically the "love hormone" oxytocin, in a way that makes it harder to form relationships later in life. Premarital sex reduces a person's ability to bond, he has said. Young people who have many partners will run out of the hormone.

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"The gift of sex is like a piece of sticky tape on the arm," he has written. …

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