The Trump administration is giving extreme anti-abortion activists the ability to make major policy decisions. As a physician, I know firsthand how disastrous this will be for women.
Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a gala for Susan B. Anthony's list, a powerful anti-abortion group. To rapturous applause, he gloated that President Trump had assembled an "A-Team" of "great pro-life leaders": Tom Price, who twice sponsored legislation that would give full constitutional rights to zygotes; Ben Carson, who once likened abortion to slavery; Rick Perry, who signed Texas' notorious abortion restrictions—which were eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court—into law.
Two new members have been recently welcomed to that team: Charmaine Yoest, the former head of Americans United for Life, and Teresa Manning, an outspoken anti-abortion activist. Both Yoest and Manning have been selected for leadership positions at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal agency tasked with protecting the health of the American public; both are strongly opposed to abortion and several methods of contraception. The problem is not that Yoest and Manning have strong views on these subjects—it's that those views are not grounded in reliable evidence, and that both women have dedicated their professional lives to advocating for policies that aren't evidence-based, either. These appointments are a stunning example of what happens when willful ignorance gains a powerful platform.
Yoest, who will serve as the department's assistant secretary of public affairs, has made a career out of spreading false information, insisting that there's a link between abortion and breast cancer—despite the fact that this claim has been debunked by several leading medical organizations, including the American Cancer Society. She also claims that contraception doesn't reduce the abortion rate, and dismisses reliable evidence that contradicts her positions by claiming the entire scientific community is controlled by an "abortion lobby." She has clearly stated that she wants to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape and incest.
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