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April 28, 2017 / Press Releases

NARAL Statement on Latest HHS Nominee Who Wants to Ban Abortion

April 28, 2017

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America issued the following statement regarding the news that Charmaine Yoest, former president of the anti-choice organization Americans United for Life, will be nominated to a top post at the Department of Health and Human Services:

“Trump has broken nearly all of his promises to the American people in his first 100 days, but he has certainly stuck to his pledge to erode the constitutional right to abortion, punishing women in the process. This nomination helps fulfill that twisted promise and speaks volumes about the Trump administration’s continued disdain for reproductive freedom and women’s rights. As the former President and CEO of Americans United for Life, Charmaine Yoest has spoken at length about her desire to ban abortion in this country, and has spent her career working to abolish women’s most basic constitutional right to bodily autonomy. Her nomination should deeply concern the vast majority of Americans who believe abortion should be legal and accessible, and please anti-choice extremists who are committed to punishing women at every turn.”

Charmaine Yoest has a deeply troubling history of working to ban abortion, and make it inaccessible for women:

New York Times: Charmaine Yoest Doesn’t Want “To Make Abortion Safer. She Wants To Make The Procedure Illegal.” From the New York Times: Yoest’s “end goal isn’t to make abortion safer. She wants to make the procedure illegal. She leaves no room for exceptions in the case of rape or incest or to preserve the health of the mother. She believes that embryos have legal rights and opposes birth control, like the IUD, that she thinks ‘has life-ending properties.’” [New York Times, 11/2/12]

AUL Under Yoest “Advocated Against The Morning-After Pill And Two Types Of IUDs.” The Atlantic reported: “AUL takes no position on other policy measures, like birth control or sex ed, that would likely reduce abortions without making life harder for law-abiding doctors who provide abortions or the women who seek them …They said they don’t oppose birth control in general, but they have advocated against the morning-after pill and two types of IUDs.” [The Atlantic, 7/16/15]

Under Charmaine Yoest’s leadership, Americans United for Life has pushed some of the most extreme restrictions on abortion access. A few examples can be found here:

  • Personhood measures, which are intended to outlaw abortion: “Personhood” measures typically change a state’s definition of the word “person” to include a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus, with the intent of outlawing abortion. They are a blatant attempt to take away a woman’s ability to make reproductive-health-care decisions, including her constitutional right to choose safe, legal abortion. Most “Personhood” measures go far beyond an abortion ban to sweep in the most common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization. Even worse, “personhood” measures by their very definition have few if any exceptions to protect a woman’s life or health.
  • 20-week bans: These abortion bans are a blatant attempt to deny women their constitutional rights and interfere in the doctor-patient relationship. Bans on abortion after 20 weeks are so extreme that they have inadequate exceptions for a woman’s health, for cases of rape or incest, or in cases of fetal anomaly.
  • Biased counseling and mandatory delays designed to shame women who choose abortion care: Biased-counseling and mandatory-delay measures prohibit women from receiving abortion care until they are subjected to a state-mandated lecture and/or materials, typically followed by a delay of at least 24 hours. These measures require that women be provided with political propaganda and medically inaccurate information, such as the disproven claim that abortion causes breast cancer. Mandatory delays create additional burdens for women, especially women in rural areas who often have to travel for many hours to reach a health-care provider, and women who do not have the resources to take extra time off work or pay for child care. Biased-counseling measures are insulting to women, implying they are not capable of making decisions for themselves, and insert politicians intrusively into the doctor-patient relationship.
  • Laws to defund health centers that offer abortion services: These laws pose a serious threat to women’s health. Defunding laws make it harder for clinics to keep their practices open and prevent patients from seeing the doctor of their choice. While some anti-choice legislation targets Planned Parenthood specifically by name, other proposals target abortion providers more generally.

NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.”


Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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