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Washington, D.C. – Today, President Trump nominated former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President for Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

No matter who’s nominated as the next HHS secretary, this administration is still stacked with anti-women’s health ideologues and extremists hell-bent on attacking women’s health.

“President Trump has filled his administration with officials who are fundamentally opposed to women’s health and rights, who don’t believe in birth control, and go so far as to hold a minor hostage in order to prevent her from seeking a legal abortion.

“Since day one, the Trump administration has put women’s health and rights squarely in its crosshairs. This administration has taken every opportunity to attack women’s health care,  including undermining Title X protections for family planning, expanding the already harmful global gag rule, appointing an anti-abortion judge to the Supreme Court, and backing repeated attempts to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood and leave millions of people without health insurance.

“While we hope for a Health and Human Services Department that supports women’s health, considering who makes up this department and the actions they’ve taken already, it looks like we can only expect more of the same: attacks on the basic health care that millions rely on.



This is all part of a broader agenda against women’s access to health care, accurate information, and bodily autonomy. Just look at who's at the helm of Trump’s HHS. President Trump has systematically filled key administration positions with anti-science, anti-women’s health extremists, including:

  • Teresa Manning, who oversees the Title X program — the nation’s only federal program dedicated to family planning — is a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee and policy analyst for the Family Research Council, claimed in an interview with WBUR that “contraception doesn’t work,” and stated on C-SPAN that she does not believe the federal government should run family planning programs.

  • Scott Lloyd, who directs the Office of Refugee Resettlement, has instructed his department to go to extreme lengths to block young immigrant women detained by the government from accessing abortions, which includes physically holding them hostage, as seen in the case of Jane Doe. Lloyd also believes that Title X family planning funding should be taken away from women altogether, but so so long as it exists, all women who have relied on Title X programs should be forced to sign a pledge that they won’t have an abortion if they need one.

  • Matthew Bowman, the Legal Advisor to the HHS Secretary tasked with making sure policies comply with the law, has been the architect of rules dismantling the ACA’s women’s preventive services birth control coverage requirements. Bowman has been wildly vocal in his belief that IUDs and emergency contraception cause abortions and that the contraceptive mandate may spread measles.

  • HHS Top Spokesperson Charmaine Yoest has touted phony claims that abortion causes breast cancer that are based on junk science and spent years as an anti-abortion extremist. As the HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Yoest is allowed to frame information about women’s reproductive health and abortion. Yoes is so extreme that in an anti-LGBT blog, she wrote “when it comes to rape, women tell the truth about half the time.”

  • Valerie Huber, the Chief of Staff at OASH, is an anti-sex education activist and was the CEO of Ascend, formerly known as the National Abstinence Education Association. Despite being opposed to comprehensive sex education, Huber holds a leadership position implementing key programs in this country to reduce unintended pregnancy and ensure young people’s health, including Title X and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

  • Domestic Policy Council Member Katy Talento is vehemently opposed to basic contraceptive coverage, yet is now responsible for helping to shape health care legislation that will affect millions of women for years to come. Talento even wrote an article claiming that “chemical birth control” is “causing miscarriages of already-conceived children,” and, “breaking your uterus for good.”

  • Jane Norton, the head of HHS Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, is a staunch opponent of Planned Parenthood who spent the majority of her political career in Colorado attempting to cut women off from this health care provider. Norton serves as the point of contact for all levels of government, as well as external organizations (non-profits, companies, trade associations etc), who have an interest in working with HHS.

  • CMS Administrator Seema Verma, who runs Medicaid which covers half of all births in this country and provides health care to women of all ages, believes that maternity coverage should be optional.


Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.