The late Christopher Hitchens once said that one of the most effective ways to bring women out of poverty is to give them control over their own reproductive systems. If you want to find a worldview that’s the polar opposite of that, look no further than President Trump’s pick to manage a government family-planning program that’s designed for poor people.
Teresa Manning is a big name in the anti-abortion community. As a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life and a member of the anti-abortion and anti-gay Family Research Council, Manning’s had her part in the dissemination of misinformation regarding contraception. She’s also voiced her opposition to federal funding for family planning, which has abortion rights advocates worried considering that she was named assistant secretary at a government agency which does exactly that.
As The Huffington Post‘s Laura Basset points out, the Office of Population Affairs is within the Health and Human Services Department and “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.”
A disturbing window into Basset’s views was provided by an interview she gave NPR in 2003, where she outright rejects the proven effectiveness of contraception.
“Of course, contraception doesn’t work,” Basset told NPR. “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.
Thanks to federal dollars going to towards family planning, the U.S. is at an all-time low for teen pregnancies. A study shows that birth control disseminated the program helped woman 904,000 unintended pregnancies. Abortion was not considered in the study because no federal funding can go towards abortions.
Speaking to HuffPo, Planned Parenthood’s Dawn Leguens said that naming a vocal opponent of birth control to the nation’s only government agency responsible for family planning is a “cruel irony.”
“This is the fox guarding the hen house, and women with low incomes will pay the price,” Laguens said.