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Trump names anti-abortion activist to top health department role

President Trump has named an anti-abortion activist — who buys into a scientifically dubious theory that abortion can cause breast cancer — to a top Health and Human Services role.

Charmaine Yoest, the longtime president of the pro-life nonprofit Americans United for Life, was tapped as the health department’s next assistant secretary of public affairs.

The position, which does not require Senate confirmation, puts Yoest at the forefront of the department’s messaging, according the Hill.

“Congrats to @CharmaineYoest on appointment as Asst Sec of @HHS. Yet again, this admin demonstrates strong commitment to the #prolife cause,” House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted Friday.

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Charmaine Yoest testifies on Capitol Hill in 2010.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Yoest, a backer of Trump’s campaign and former Mike Huckabee adviser who now serves as a senior fellow at the nonprofit American Values, voiced views that seemed at odds with science in a 2012 New York Times profile.

Herself a breast cancer survivor, she claimed abortion boosts women’s breast cancer risk — and, when confronted with studies showing no link between the two, cited work from pro-life OB-GYNs and insisted scientists were “under the control of the abortion lobby.”

“It’s really a red herring that the abortion lobby likes to bring up by conflating abortion and birth control,” she told PBS a year earlier. “Because that would be, frankly, carrying water for the other side to allow them to redefine the issue in that way.”

Yoest, telling The Times she wanted abortion made illegal even in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s health, also claimed IUDs — an intrauterine form of birth control — had “life-ending properties.”

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In the same profile, she dismissed a study-backed finding that birth control use reduced abortion rates — telling the Washington Post three years later she hadn’t “seen anything” backing the link between increased use of contraception and reduced abortions, despite research indicating otherwise.

Pro-choice groups, predictably, panned Yoest’s appointment.

President Trump speaks during a Reuters interview last week.

President Trump speaks during a Reuters interview last week.


“As the former President and CEO of Americans United for Life, Charmaine Yoest has spoken at length about her desire to ban abortion in this country, and has spent her career working to abolish women’s most basic constitutional right to bodily autonomy,” NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.

“Her nomination should deeply concern the vast majority of Americans who believe abortion should be legal and accessible, and please anti-choice extremists who are committed to punishing women at every turn.”

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And Planned Parenthood Federation America executive vice president Dawn Laguens, in a statement, said it was “unacceptable that someone with a history of promoting myths and false information about women’s health is appointed to a government position whose main responsibility is to provide the public with accurate and factual information.”

Yoest’s boss-to-be, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, was also a strong anti-abortion voice who deemed Planned Parenthood’s work “barbaric” during his time as a Georgia congressman.

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