From his stance on Planned Parenthood to blatant sexism throughout his career, Donald Trump has proven time and time again to be a threat to women and their rights.
We should not be surprised by the choice he made on on May 2 to tap Teresa Manning, law professor at George Mason University, as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Population Affairs under Title X. (While she is listed on the Health and Human Services Department’s directory, the White House did not respond to other sources asking for confirmation on Manning assuming this role.)
Her job would be to advise the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Population Affairs (OPA) on a variety of topics from teen pregnancy to family planning and reproductive health. The OPA is responsible for enforcing Title X, “the only federal program dedicated solely to the provision of family planning and related preventive services.”
Having an anti-abortion advocate serve a leadership role in any federal health program is scary enough, but Manning is a particularly questionable choice for family planning since she in 2003 told NPR that “of course, contraception doesn’t work” and that “the prospect that contraception would always prevent the conception of a child is preposterous.”
She also attacked the morning-after pill, calling it “medically irresponsible” and “anti-family,” and even spoke in opposition to the premise of Title X, the very program she may soon be in charge of enforcing:
You know, family planning is something that occurs between a husband and a wife and God, and it doesn’t really involve the federal government…
In the past, Manning worked with the anti-abortion group National Right to Life and with the Family Research Council (FRC), which has been anything but subtle regarding its anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination: on its website, it says that “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects…” and it opposes what it calls “the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality…” (The FRC, too, unsurprisingly, opposes abortion.)
Perhaps it is best summarized by 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. We are at the lowest rate of unintended pregnancy in 30 years and a historic low for teen pregnancy because of access to birth control. Someone who promotes myths about birth control and reproductive care should not be in charge of the office that is responsible for family planning at HHS.
–Dawn Laguens to Mother Jones
In 2017, we should not have to remind our government that LGBTQ+ people are legitimate and valuable, or that their health matters too. We should not have to protest our government’s attempts to oppress them in this day and age. We should not have to fight for people who need an abortion to have autonomy over their bodies — these things should be secured by our leadership.
And yet, here we are again.
How can the Health and Human Services Department claim “to enhance the health and well-being of Americans” while even considering an anti-abortion advocate with this dangerous track record to advise on family planning?