WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump has appointed Teresa Manning, an anti-abortion activist who has argued that “contraception doesn’t work,” to oversee a federal family planning program for low-income Americans.
Manning, a former lobbyist with the National Right to Life Committee and legislative analyst for the conservative Family Research Council, will serve as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Population Affairs administers the Title X program, which subsidizes contraception, Pap smears and other preventive health care services for 4 million low-income Americans, roughly half of whom are uninsured.
Manning has said she opposes federal family planning funding, and she has a long history of making false claims about birth control and women’s health.
“Of course, contraception doesn’t work,” she said in a 2003 NPR interview. “Its efficacy is very low especially when you consider over years, which you know a lot of contraception health advocates want, to start women in their adolescent years when they’re extremely fertile, incidentally. And continue for 10, 20, 30 years, over that span of time the prospect that contraception would always prevent the conception of a child is preposterous.”
Manning has referred to abortion as “legalized crime” and mistakenly argued that emergency contraception, which can prevent pregnancy for up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, is “the destruction of a human life already conceived.” (It’s not.) She has also claimed that the link between abortion and breast cancer is “undisputed,” when there is actually no evidence of a causal relationship between the two.
“This is the fox guarding the hen house, and women with low incomes will pay the price,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood. “It is a cruel irony to appoint an opponent of birth control to oversee the nation’s only federal program dedicated to family planning.”
The United States is currently at an all-time low for teen pregnancies and a 30-year low for unintended pregnancies, thanks in large part to the government’s investment in family planning. According to the Guttmacher Insitute, in 2014, the birth control distributed by Title X–funded providers helped women prevent 904,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in an estimated 439,000 unplanned births and 326,000 abortions. No federal money can be used to pay for abortion services.
But Trump is now stacking his administration with anti-abortion activists who do not appear to support the federal family planning program. Before the Manning announcement, Trump tapped Charmaine Yoest to be assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS. Yoest, the former president of Americans United for Life, has been fighting Planned Parenthood for years and has said that the IUD ― a common form of birth control― “has life-ending properties.”
Anti-abortion activists are celebrating the ideological shift at HHS.
“The fact that Yoest will be replacing Kevin Griffis, who now works for Planned Parenthood, is another indication of the dramatic change we’ve seen in Washington since the election of President Trump,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement. “This is a new era for the pro-life movement and our fight to protect unborn children and their mothers from the horror of abortion.”