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The Trump Appointees Who Want to Take Your Birth Control

They’re anti-women's health, they want to sabotage your access to birth control  – and they’re planted in key positions across the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Trump administration’s attack on birth control coverage — which jeopardizes more than 62 million women’s access to contraception — was no fluke. Since January, women have been in the crosshairs of virtually every major health policy decision at the federal level. But why?

Take a look at the officials selected to serve at the highest echelons of Trump’s executive team. From the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the White House, Trump has assembled a collection of hardline extremists: people guided by dogma, rather than facts, when they make decisions about sexual and reproductive health.

Meet the key people leading President Trump’s onslaught against women’s health — and learn about the extreme views they’re attempting to transform into federal policy.   

1. Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Some women might not choose [maternity coverage]. Some women might not want that.

— Seema Verma, at her confirmation hearing in 2017

Source: Chicago Tribune

Trump once referred to Verma and former HHS Secretary Tom Price as “the dream team.”

A former corporate health care consultant, Verma — who made millions while helping then-Gov. Mike Pence dismantle Medicaid in Indiana — now oversees Medicare and Medicaid. That’s right: A woman who thinks maternity coverage should be optional is in charge of the two programs that provide health care to the greatest number of women of all ages.

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2. Valerie Huber, Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary for Health

“Abstinence education is a great way to get to the end of abortion in our lifetime.”

— Valerie Huber, at the Bringing America Back to Life conference in 2012


Valerie Huber has spent years promoting abstinence-only education

Abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs lack basis in fact, are ineffective, and encourage feelings of shame and confusion. They also leave teenagers at heightened risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs. Those bracing realities, though, have never appeared to sway Valerie Huber from her conviction that AOUM programs should be taught to youth across America. Huber has spent years attempting to put that conviction into practice; before joining the Trump administration, she was the president of Ascend, the premier abstinence-only-until-marriage advocacy group.

The most notable change since Huber’s arrival at HHS is an announced plan to terminate research and program grants under the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program two years ahead of schedule — jeopardizing the continuity of over $200 million of evidence-based sex education programs. Those grants sustain the essential work of empowering young people to lead safe and healthy lives, and their pending termination threatens recent progress toward lowering America’s birth rate among teenagers — which in recent years, due in part to broader access to contraception, has fallen to record lows.

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3. Teresa Manning, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs

Interestingly, the [psychological] effects of abortion are very similar to the effects of rape.

— Teresa Manning in a 2000 Family Research Council paper

Let’s get to the point: Teresa Manning is an anti-women’s health extremist and longtime opponent of birth control.

She once claimed, in a discussion on a Boston public radio program, that “contraception doesn’t work” — and she said in 2003 that she does not believe the federal government should run family-planning programs.

Now Manning is in charge of Title X — the premier federal program dedicated to birth control and other preventive reproductive health services for those who otherwise lack access, whether it’s due to low incomes or lack of insurance coverage. That’s correct: Someone who believes “contraception doesn’t work” now administers the federal program designed to make contraception more readily available.

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4. Katy Talento, Member, White House Domestic Policy Council

Hormonal birth control is seriously risky.

— Katy Talento, in a 2015 op-ed

A birth control skeptic

Talento, who is notorious for being a birth control foe, once worked as legislative director to ultra-conservative Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — a supporter, when he was speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, of an infamous attempt to shoehorn restrictions on safe, legal abortion into a motorcycle safety bill.

Among Talento’s pastimes: spreading disinformation about birth control while wearing the guise of scientific expertise. In a blog post, Talento — who holds a master’s degree in public health — once bizarrely described the use of birth control as “ingest[ing] a bunch of dangerous, carcinogenic chemicals.”

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5. Charmaine Yoest, Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs

We know that abortion is not a means of female empowerment; it is a heartbreaking choice that ends one life and can damage another—and that is the true war on women.

— Charmaine Yoest, in a 2016 op-ed

Yoest's resume could double as a who’s who of anti-women’s health extremist organizations

Yoest joined the Trump administration on the strength of a résumé that could double as a who’s who of extreme anti-women’s health organizations. Yoest was president of Americans United for Life, a high-profile anti-abortion group, and has worked at American Values, an ultra-conservative group known for its opposition to marriage equality.  

Yoest, like other Trump appointees to HHS, has often propagated falsehoods about birth control. In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, she said IUDs have “life-ending properties” — a declaration at odds with the scientific consensus that IUDs prevent fertilization by hindering the movement of sperm cells. Yoest has also associated with other reckless purveyors of misinformation; she once tweeted that she was “proud to call David Daleiden,” who is currently under indictment for orchestrating the release of deceptive videos that leveled fabricated charges at Planned Parenthood, “a friend.”

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6. Scott Lloyd, Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement

I suggest that the American people make a deal with women: So long as you are using the condom, pill or patch I am providing with my [Title X] money, you are going to promise not to have an abortion if the contraception fails.

—Scott Lloyd, in a 2009 essay

Source: National Catholic Register, 2009

Lloyd arrived at HHS with little — well, no experience at resettling refugees, but with a substantial curriculum vitae as an anti-abortion zealot.

Previously the chief of public policy for the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic anti-abortion nonprofit, Lloyd became notorious in October 2017 for personally intervening to attempt to block young immigrant women in U.S. custody from access to abortion.

According to reporting published by Politico, Lloyd:

… has personally visited and called pregnant girls in shelters, directed them to a list of approved crisis pregnancy centers*, instructed staff to block minors from meeting with attorneys and told shelter operators to call a minor’s parents even if she receives permission [from a judge to get] an abortion without their consent.

A spokesperson at HHS justified Lloyd’s interventions to the Washington Post by dubbing Lloyd the pregnant detainees’ “foster parent.” According to the Post, the HHS spokesperson asserted that “[Lloyd] by law has custody of these children, and just like a foster parent, he knows that that’s a lot of responsibility and he is going to make choices that he thinks are best for both the mother and the child.”

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