Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made turning back the clock on women’s reproductive rights central to its new mission.
A draft of its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan states unequivocally that the goals of HHS are contingent upon “serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.” This alarming and unproven definition of when life begins directly undermines the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade that affirms the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion.
As a Member of Congress, recently departed HHS Secretary Tom Price sponsored the “Right to Life Act,” a bill that defined life as beginning at conception and would give zygotes (or a “preborn human person”) full legal rights with no exception for rape, incest, or threat to a woman’s life.
Now, 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.”
HHS has opened the door for a barrage of actions against women, particularly low-income women and those who are most vulnerable. Their recent move to shred the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers cover birth control is just the first example.
The draft of the HHS strategic plan is open for comments through October 27. The National Organization for Women encourages every citizen to go on record objecting to this medically unsound, politically extreme, and morally indefensible mission statement.
A woman’s reproductive choices should be between herself and licensed physician, not Congress, not the President of the United States, and not the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.