The pro-life movement has been disseminating a special brand of junk science for decades now, and Trump’s latest pick to be the Department of Human and Health Services’ assistant secretary for public affairs is a proponent of that junk science.
Until recently, Charmaine Yoest was the president of the extremist anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, and according to a New York Times Magazine profile by Emily Bazelon from 2012, Yoest has been a proponent of some of the worst misinformation to ever come out of the pro-life camp.
In the piece, Yoest speaks about how she believes intrauterine devices have “life-ending properties” and outright rejects studies that show access to contraception reduces abortion rates. Additionally, Yoest does not believe in exceptions for rape and incest when it comes to abortion, and she even is against the procedure when the life of the mother is at stake. But perhaps most inexplicable among her alarming views regarding women’s reproductive issues is the fraudulent claim that abortion is linked to breast cancer.
When confronted with data showing the claim to be a lie, Yoest claimed that the researchers and scientists are “under the control of the abortion lobby.”
The false abortion-breast cancer link goes back quite a ways in the pro-life movement. Websites and other literature linked to myriad pro-life groups use the claim as a way to scare woman away from abortion. As Snopes pointed out back in February, “an authoritative 1997 study utilizing government-collected data on every Danish women born between 1935 and 1978 concluded there was no increased risk of breast cancer from abortions,” adding that “organizations such as the World Health Organization, U.S. National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and many others now reject the existence of any such link.” You can read the findings of that study here.
Since Yoest’s position doesn’t require Senate confirmation, she’s already as good as in. And just like that, one of the United States’ health officials will be a zealot who refuses to acknowledge valid research and believes established medical facts spring from the liberal imagination.
“Though she has helped usher in hard-hitting changes in women’s health care, Yoest is especially good at sounding reasonable rather than extreme,” Bazelon wrote back in 2012. “She never deviates from her talking points, never raises her voice and never forgets to smile.”
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