In response to the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) recently unveiled four-year strategic plan that endorses anti-choice "junk science" by declaring that life begins at conception, the National Organization for Women (NOW) issued a searing statement Monday that condemned the Trump administration for "turning back the clock on women's reproductive rights" and encouraged all Americans to fight back.
"It's concerning because HHS isn't just a theoretical group that writes think pieces no one reads. We are replacing science with beliefs."
—Dr. Jen GunterEveryone must reject "this medically unsound, politically extreme, and morally indefensible mission statement," NOW president Toni Van Pelt said, urging Americans to make use of the public comment period, which runs through October 27. "A woman's reproductive choices should be between herself and a licensed physician, not Congress, not the president of the United States, and not the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."
NOW went on to argue that while Tom Price is no longer HHS chief—thanks to his inability to resist flying privately on the taxpayer dime—his anti-choice views live on at the department.
"The strategic review process begun by Tom Price continues under the leadership of religious conservatives like Teresa Manning, deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, an anti-abortion activist who once claimed that the 'efficacy' of birth control is 'very low' and that 'family planning is something that occurs between a husband and a wife and God,'" Van Pelt observed.
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"HHS has opened the door for a barrage of actions against women, particularly low-income women and those who are most vulnerable," Van Pelt concluded. "Their recent move to shred the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers cover birth control is just the first example."
Over the past several weeks, the Trump administration has moved forward with a slew of priorities pulled straight from the playbook of the religious right, and the HHS strategic memo appears to be more of the same, critics have said.
"It's concerning because HHS isn't just a theoretical group that writes think pieces no one reads," Dr. Jen Gunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist based in San Fransisco, told ThinkProgress. "We are replacing science with beliefs."