President Donald Trump's administration has been no stranger to the anti-abortion movement. From Vice President Mike Pence speaking at a pro-life rally, to Trump hiring a health policy aide who has argued that birth control can "break your uterus for good," Trump's administration has welcomed many anti-abortionists to the table.
But Trump's latest appointee, a staunch anti-abortionist who thinks IUDs cause abortions, is perhaps the most concerning, because she'll be bringing her anti-science views to a position charged with providing health information to the public. Meet Charmaine Yoest.
Last week, Trump appointed Yoest, a career anti-abortion lobbyist, to the position of assistant secretary of public affairs for Health and Human Services, one of the top communications jobs at the agency. Yoest has spent her career lobbying for abortion and birth control restrictions with anti-abortion groups such as the Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, and American Values (these groups also support anti-LGBT agendas, it's worth noting). On its website, Americans United for Life boasts that Yoest is "public enemy number one to many in the pro-abortion community."
But what's most problematic about Yoest isn't her personal belief about abortion, it's her anti-science, anti-evidence perspective. Yoest has stated that she believes intrauterine devices—little t-shaped contraceptive devices that are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy—have "life-ending properties." Along with not being a medical term, this is straight-up incorrect: IUDs prevent a pregnancy from occurring in the first place, usually by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg, though occasionally they might be able to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterus wall, too. Either way, with no pregnancy to begin with, there's no way an IUD can end a life.
Yoest has also said that she believes abortions cause breast cancer—a claim that has been thoroughly debunked by cancer experts—and that contraception doesn't reduce abortion rates—an idea that has also been debunked through non-partisan scientific research.
As one of the top health communicators in the country, she'll be responsible for sharing health information with the public, and creating dialogues that will inform public policy. She's clearly stated beliefs that disregard science and evidence. If she doesn't believe in science, how can we trust her to share accurate information?
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