Trump Administration: Life Begins at Conception

by Stephen Wynne  •  •  October 13, 2017   

HHS adopts pro-life perspective in new strategic plan

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WASHINGTON ( - In a major break with Obama-era policy, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is recognizing that life begins at conception.

The HHS, last week, released a draft of its 2018–2022 strategic plan for public review. Analysts have since recognized a significant shift in stance consistent with the Trump administration's pro-life ethic.

  • Under Obama, the HHS described its organizational structure in this way: "HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving Americans at every stage of life." Now, under Trump, the organizational structure has been modified: "HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.”
  • Likewise, the agency declares its first strategic goal is to "Reform, Strengthen and Modernize the Nation's Health Care," to better serve all Americans: "HHS seeks to improve health care outcomes for people we serve. While we may refer to the people we serve as beneficiaries, enrollees, patients or consumers, our ultimate goal is to improve healthcare outcomes for all people, including the unborn, across healthcare settings."
  • Again, the strategic plan outlines the agency' work to "Strengthen the Economic and Social Well-Being of Americans across the Lifespan:" The plan reads, "A core component of the HHS mission is our dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death, but especially those individuals and populations facing or at high risk for economic and social well-being challenges, through effective human services."

The changes at HHS are a direct outgrowth of President Trump's pro-life advocacy. In spring, the commander-in-chief appointed several strongly pro-life figures to leadership positions inside the agency, including Teresa Manning, a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and writer and political commentator Charmaine Yoest.

Charmaine Yoest, HHS assistant secretary of public affairs

Manning, a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee and legislative analyst for the Family Research Council, was named deputy assistant secretary for population affairs.

Yoest, former CEO of Americans United for Life, was selected to serve as assistant secretary of health and human services in charge of public affairs.

Both are vocal opponents of abortifacient intra-uterine device (IUD) contraception. They also publicly refute the abortion lobby's assertion that increased access to contraception reduces the number of abortions. In a 2011 PBS interview, Yoest explained, "It's really a red herring that the abortion lobby likes to bring up by conflating abortion and birth control."

Manning, in fact, has blasted contraception in general as "anti-family." Speaking to NPR in 2003, she affirmed that "the incidence of contraception use and the incidence of abortion go up, hand in hand."

HHS will be accepting public comment on its draft strategic plan until October 27.

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