The foot soldiers in the Trump-Pence religious health movement

SOURCE:, 2019-05-30

  • See also:

  • Katy Talento
  • Andrew Bremberg
  • Maggie Wynne
  • Diane Foley
  • Steven Valentine
  • Valerie Huber
  • Roger Severino
  • March Bell
  • Matthew Bowman
  • Scott Lloyd

    With Donald Trump's election in 2016, Vice President Mike Pence emerged as a force in reshaping American health policy. Aligning the policy with Pence's evangelical Christian principles, the administration stocked the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies with a cadre of pro-life staff members.

    This story lists 10 of those appointees. Through HHS and the White House, most declined interview requests.

    An HHS spokesperson, responding to Reuters questions about agency personnel and actions, cited a January statement from Secretary Alex Azar, who touted the administration's anti-abortion policies and pledged to "continue to advance science and improve the health of Americans while protecting our most fundamental freedoms: the right to life and the right of conscience."

    Katy Talento

    Position: Domestic Policy Council, special assistant to the president

    Background: Talento, an epidemiologist and former Senate staffer, coordinated health policy throughout the administration. A longtime abortion foe, she criticizes medical birth control as harmful to women's health and has written that transgender people suffer from "the catastrophic effects of declaring war on our own bodies." Talento left the position last week.

    Andrew Bremberg

    Position: Former head of Domestic Policy Council; now nominated as ambassador to the United Nations mission in Geneva

    Background: Bremberg, a health policy expert, served as co-chair of the HHS transition team that stocked the agency with religious conservatives before serving as chief of the White House policy operation. He drafted the expanded Mexico City policy that imposes anti-abortion rules on billions in U.S. health aid.

    Maggie Wynne

    Position: HHS, Counselor for Human Services Policy

    Background: A former HHS official under the Obama administration and director of the U.S. House Pro-Life Caucus, Wynne worked for the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization, before rejoining HHS. She served on the transition team, helped bring in other anti-abortion activists and participated in attempts to prevent pregnant immigrant girls from obtaining abortions.

    Diane Foley

    Position: Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Population Affairs

    Background: The former head of Life Network, a center that counseled pregnant women not to have abortions, Foley promoted abstinence programs for young people. Foley oversees the Title X program that provides family planning services.

    Steven Valentine

    Position: Chief of Staff, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health

    Background: A former interim legislative director at Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, Valentine helps supervise the Title X grant program. With other anti-abortion advocates in the office, he tried to end the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, a move blocked by the courts.

    Valerie Huber

    Position: Senior policy advisor, HHS Office of Global Affairs

    Background: The former president of a Washington group that championed "sexual risk avoidance," or abstinence as an alternative for birth control, Huber wrote a paper that said Christians should promote "God's sexual guidelines to life" in sex education and public health policy. Huber worked on the attempt to kill the Teen Pregnancy Program, and now works on international health policy.

    Roger Severino

    Position: Director, Office of Civil Rights at HHS

    Background: A Harvard-educated attorney and Catholic conservative, Severino worked as a civil rights lawyer at DOJ before joining a center on religion at the Heritage Foundation. He has opposed same-sex marriage, calling it a threat to religious liberty, and criticized the rule allowing transgender people to serve in the military. "Everyone should have the freedom to choose to follow the truth as best as they see it without government coercion," Severino said in an interview.

  • Radical transphobe Severino spearheaded this abomination, within the Trump administration [2020-06-12]:  Transphobic Trump Administration Erases Transgender Civil Rights Protections in Health Care.  A rule finalized on Friday [2020-06-12] by the Department of Health and Human Services means that the federal government no longer recognizes gender identity as an avenue for sex discrimination in health care.

    March Bell

    Position: Chief of Staff, Office for Civil Rights

    Background: An abortion opponent and former Justice Department attorney, Bell was staff director for a House panel that investigated Planned Parenthood for selling baby parts, an inquiry that grew out of a controversial video sting operation.

    Matthew Bowman

    Position: Deputy general counsel, HHS

    Background: As senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that defends religious conservatives, Bowman was part of a "life litigation project," working on cases against the contraception mandate in Obamacare. He himself has been arrested for demonstrating outside abortion clinics.

    Scott Lloyd

    Position: Former head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, now senior advisor at the Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiatives

    Background: When Lloyd ran the office responsible for caring for young migrants, he tried to block some of the underage women from having abortions, sparking court battles. A lawyer, Lloyd helped found a firm that worked on cases based on Catholic doctrine on birth control and abortion. "The law is pagan territory," he has written. "Look no further than no fault divorce, legalized abortion on demand, and gay marriage as confirmation."

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