Charmaine Yeost was once president and CEO of Americans United for Life, an organization that has "quietly made it much harder to get an abortion" one state at a time. Now, she has just been appointed to a senior communications position at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Politico reports.
Her appointment, confirmed by President Trump this morning, raises red flags for pro-choice activists and advocates of women's health, as Yeost has a history of staunch anti-abortion work.
"This troubling appointment puts an anti-abortion activist known for spreading misinformation in charge of communicating to women and men nationwide about their health and wellbeing," Senator Patty Murray said in a statement. “Ms. Yoest has a long record of seeking to undermine women’s access to health care and safe, legal abortion by distorting the facts, and her selection shows yet again that this Administration is pandering to extreme conservatives and ignoring the millions of men and women nationwide who support women’s constitutionally protected health care rights and don’t want to go backward.”
It's no secret that Trump has been looking to restrict access to abortion since he took office. He even offered to keep funding Planned Parenthood, which his administration had been threatening to defund, as long as the organization stopped performing abortions.
As some of the most out-spoken advocates for a woman's right to choose, Planned Parenthood of course said no.
Yoest's appointment to the HHS seems to be yet another tactic from the Trump administration to limit people's access to, and knowledge of, abortion. Someone with such a history of work against abortion can't be expected to spread information about what access to safe abortion can mean for women.
As research shows, making abortion illegal does not stop women from getting abortions. We can't imagine that limiting our knowledge of abortion would put a stop to it either, it would likely just mean that more people have unsafe abortions.
Yoest isn't the only person working with the HHS's communications department, of course, so it's unlikely that the department will put a stop to all information about abortion. But her appointment still makes a statement about what the future of women's healthcare may look like under the Trump administration.
"The public health benefits of safe and legal abortion as well as access to contraception are clear," Diane Horvath-Cosper, MD, advocacy fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Refinery29. "This appointment sends another signal that the Trump administration will put politics above medical evidence and risk our nation’s health."