Donald Trump is reportedly adding another member to his administration that wants to see the destruction of the program that they’ve been charged with leading. Politico reports that Teresa Manning, an anti-contraception activist, will oversee the budget for the federal family planning program. Manning has previously said that “family planning is what occurs between a husband and a wife and God.”
The White House has not publicly confirmed Manning’s appointment but Politico’s report claims that her name has already been added to the Department of Health and Human Services’ employee directory. As deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, Manning would oversee around $286 million that is allocated to the Title X federal family planning program. The program was founded in 1970 and since then, the rate of unintended pregnancies in the U.S. has plummetted, and the lowest it’s been in 30 years.
According to Mother Jones:
Manning, an adjunct professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, was formerly a legislative analyst at the conservative Family Research Council and a lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee, the largest US organization opposing abortion.
Manning has questioned the efficacy of contraception in preventing pregnancy, and also said the government shouldn’t play a role in family planning—the foundational ideas behind the federal family planning program she will now be tasked with overseeing. In a 2003 radio interview, Manning noted that pro-choice advocates “promote contraception and birth control as a way to reduce the incidence of abortion. There really is no evidence to support that. In fact, the incidence of contraception use and the incidence of abortion go up hand in hand.”
Of course, Manning is just making shit up when she says that. A 2012 study from Washington University School of Medicine found that access to free birth control cuts abortion rates by a range of 62 to 78 percent compared to the national rate. And as access to contraception has spread across the U.S., abortion rates are at the lowest they’ve been since the supreme court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
Manning will have science-denying company at HHS. Trump appointed Charmaine Yoest to the top communications post at the department last week. Yoest will inform the public about health issues and will serve as the agency’s liaison in discussions over future public policy. Yoest told the New York Times in 2012, that intrauterine devices (IUDs), have “life-ending properties.” The devices actually prevent pregnancy before it ever occurs.
The potential repercussions of these appointments are severe. Yoest will have the power to spread misinformation to the public and lawmakers, while Manning will have control of the purse strings for government funded health services that affected around 5.2 million people in 2009. According to NPR, “Seventy percent of those patients had income below the federal poverty line; two-thirds had no health insurance.”
To be clear, Title X does not provide funding to clinics that offer abortions as a method for family planning. It does offer birth control, tests for cervical and breast cancer, and tests for STDs. By the way, Yoest believes abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. When the New York Times pressed her for any scientific data regarding that claim, “Yoest would only refer back to the pro-life obstetricians she trusts and later declared that the scientific establishment ‘is under the control of the abortion lobby.’”
What to do when important agencies are being staffed with anti-science whack-a-doodles in senior positions? Pray.