And you thought Miers was scary?

Ellen Sauerbrey is a humanitarian crisis of her own.

Published October 26, 2005 2:41PM (EDT)

The good news is, she may not be U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women for much longer. The bad news is, that's because President Bush has nominated her to the position of assistant secretary of state, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

She is Ellen Sauerbrey, and her confirmation hearing yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- taking place in the shadow of the beleaguered Harriet Miers nomination and the fawning over likely Alan Greenspan successor Ben Bernanke -- got off to a bit of a rocky start. "It doesn't appear that you have very specific experience," observed Sen. Barack Obama, who should be on every committee ever.

The PRM is basically our international FEMA: our first responder to humanitarian crises abroad. Sauerbrey, according to reports, has all the experience with refugees and humanitarian emergencies that Michael "Brownie" Brown had with ... refugees and humanitarian emergencies.

Sauerbrey does, however, have plenty of experience opposing abortion and, reportedly, being Bolton-esquely hostile to the U.N. From the Feminist Majority: "Sauerbrey opposed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. She has repeatedly asserted that 'reproductive health services' is 'code' for abortion, and headed the Bush administration's effort to undermine the Beijing Platform for Action, an agreement among 189 countries to safeguard women's rights." According to Planned Parenthood, "Sauerbrey has also denied that adolescents have any right to exercise autonomous control over their reproductive health and has called abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education the healthiest and most responsible method of HIV prevention suitable for adolescents." Twelve advocacy groups, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Advocates for Youth and the Health Global Access Project -- not only "women's" organizations, as is frequently reported -- have written a joint letter urging Bush to withdraw the nomination.

As Women's eNews puts it: "If confirmed, she would represent the U.S. position on family planning and reproductive health to the international community." She would apparently also oversee a budget of about $1 billion, not one nickel of which, we're guessing, would be spent on condoms.

In Sauerbrey's defense, she did run Bush's 2000 campaign in Maryland, and that worked. For her.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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