Trump appoints leading anti-abortion activist to senior role in health department

Andrew Buncombe
Ms Yoest willl serve as assistant secretary of public affairs: Americans United for Life

A leading anti-abortionist activist has been appointed to a senior position in Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The White House said that Charmaine Yoest, who actively supported Trump in his campaign, will serve as assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS.

The Associated Press said from 2008 until February 2016, she was president of Americans United for Life, which campaigned at the federal and state level for tough restrictions on abortion.

Among the many state bills backed by the group under Ms Yoest’s leadership were measures that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require women seeking abortions to undergo a sonogram and impose tough regulations on abortion clinics that could lead to their closure.

Abortion rights groups condemned the move.

“Charmaine Yoest has spent her whole professional life opposing access to birth control and a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood.

“While President Trump claims to empower women, he is appointing government officials who believe just the opposite.”

Anti-abortion leader Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B Anthony List, praised Ms Yoest as “one of the pro-life movement's most articulate and powerful communicators”.

Ms Dannenfelser said Yoest will be replacing Kevin Griffis, who joined Planned Parenthood earlier this month as vice president of communications.

Many anti-abortion campaigners, including Ms Yoest, were initially cautious about Mr Trump's bid for the presidency, but became staunch supporters after he pledged to support several of their key goals.

These included a federal 20-week abortion ban, a halt to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and appointment of Supreme Court justices who would be open to overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

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