No Prior Experience? Don’t Worry, You’re Hired!

I know that the M.O. in the Trump administration is to put folks in charge of things that they know nothing about, actively try to undermine, or don’t believe in. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw the news that Teresa Manning, a vocal opponent of birth control and abortion, has been named to lead the office that oversees the Title X family planning program, the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive services. But I was. After processing the surprise (which involved a fair bit of cursing on my part), I realized others may not understand just why I find this so abhorrent. Here’s why:

  • Manning will oversee the Title X family planning program, but she doesn’t think there should be such a program. She said: “I always shake my head, you know family planning is what occurs between a husband and a wife and God, and it doesn’t really involve the federal government.” That may be true for some people. But for many, many others, like the four million people who received services from a Title X family planning clinic in FY 2015, it includes a health care provider.
  • Manning will be in a position to advise Sec. Tom Price on family planning issues, but she believes “contraception doesn’t work.” In an NPR interview in 2003 she said, “And of course, contraception doesn’t work. Its efficacy is very low.” Fact check: it does.
  • Manning believes what she wants about women’s health instead of scientific fact. She wrote in 2001 that emergency contraception is “the destruction of a human life already conceived.” Emergency contraception is a form of birth control.  And, she repeats the oft-cited lie that abortions cause breast cancer.
  • Manning believes in fetal personhood, a radical theory that pregnancy begins at “conception,” not implantation, which can threaten access to birth control and abortion. She said: “Once you have established it as a human being there is an obligation on the part of members of society to protect it as a human being, treat it as a human person.  Once you have established that scientifically, biologically, there is nothing left to discuss.”

This is not normal. This endangers the health and well-being of people across the country. This is yet another reason we will vigilantly monitor what is happening at the Department of Health and Human Services. This is why we resist.