Trump Taps ‘Entirely Unfit’ Anti-Choice Congressman to Lead HHS

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Trump Taps ‘Entirely Unfit’ Anti-Choice Congressman to Lead HHS

Ally Boguhn

Debra L. Ness, president of National Partnership for Women & Families, encouraged the U.S. Senate “to refuse to confirm a nominee who poses such a significant threat to the health and well-being of women and families.”

Pro-choice groups roundly condemned President-elect Trump’s Tuesday decision to nominate Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“We are extremely disappointed with President-elect Trump’s nomination of Rep. Tom Price–a vocal and staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), reproductive rights and efforts to improve women’s health–to serve as secretary of HHS,” Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement on the nomination.

Ness said Price’s “opposition to contraception coverage and abortion care harms women whose economic security, health and dignity is tied to their ability to plan whether and when to have children.” She encouraged the U.S. Senate to “refuse to confirm a nominee who poses such a significant threat to the health and well-being of women and families.”

Price in a 2012 interview with ThinkProgress discussed his opposition to the ACA’s birth control benefit, which mandates that employer-sponsored health insurance plans cover contraception as preventive care with no cost to the consumer. Price claimed “there’s not one” woman who would have trouble affording contraception without it.

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As HHS secretary, he would be in a position to help Trump roll back that benefit.

Price has been strident in his opposition to the ACA, and touted Trump on the campaign trail as a candidate who could end the law that has helped millions of people gain access to health care. 

Other groups criticized Price’s anti-choice record and vowed to take action against a Trump administration’s possible assault on reproductive rights.

“Price has voted for extreme bans on abortion care and coverage and vowed to end Obamacare. This nomination is yet another signal that Trump plans to make good on his promise to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, and punish women who have abortions by making the Hyde Amendment permanent,” Destiny Lopez, co-director of All* Above All, said in a statement. “Trump has no mandate to take away women’s basic rights and we plan to fight these heinous proposals every step of the way.”

Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement that Trump’s pick is “jeopardizing the health of millions of American women and families.”

“Tom Price is entirely unfit to be secretary of health and human services and follows a troubling pattern of Trump appointees who have shown complete disregard for the challenges women in this country face,” Schriock said. “This Republican Congress must defend the women it claims to protect and hold Trump and his nominees accountable for their anti-woman agendas.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America Senior Vice President Sasha Bruce said in a statement that Trump’s nomination of Price is “sending a clear signal that he intends to punish women who seek abortion care.”

Trump said in March that if abortion care were to become illegal, people who have the procedure should be punished. He then changed his position to say that only doctors should be punished for providing abortion care.

“Tom Price is someone who has made clear throughout his career that he does not trust women to make our own decisions about our health care. Instead, he wants to punish us for the choices we make for our bodies, our futures, and our families,” Bruce said. “For the seven in 10 Americans who support legal access to abortion, this is an incredibly alarming pick.”

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called Price a “grave threat” to reproductive health care. “If Price had his way, millions of women could be cut off from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services like birth control, cancer screenings and STD tests.”

“Our nation’s HHS Secretary should aim to break down barriers to health care. Instead, Tom Price wants to build more,” Richards said. “These barriers to care have a disproportionate impact on those who already face inequities and barriers in the health care system—including people of color, people who live in rural areas, people with low incomes, and immigrant communities.”