Former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), who has co-sponsored federal anti-choice legislation such as a fetal “personhood” bill, was nominated Saturday by Republican President-elect Donald Trump to head the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
“I’m very confident that Senator Dan Coats is the right choice to serve as Director of National Intelligence,” Trump said in a statement announcing his decision. “If confirmed as Director of National Intelligence, he will provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration’s ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm.”
The DNI was created in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks amid calls for intelligence reform. The director “serves as the head of the Intelligence Community, overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to national security,” according to the office’s website.
During his tenure in Congress, Coats co-sponsored and supported numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation such as the Life at Conception Act of 2016, a so-called personhood measure that would have granted constitutional rights to fetuses and criminalized abortion. The proposed bill noted that it does not call for “the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child, a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.”
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Coats signed on as a co-sponsor of the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act in 2013, which would have barred the U.S. secretary of health from providing any public funding for family planning to organizations that also provide abortion services—a move that Republicans admit was effectively an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. The Hyde Amendment already bans most federal funding for abortion care.
The former Indiana senator also pushed to defund Planned Parenthood in 2015 after the anti-choice front group Center for Medical Progress released a series of deceptively edited videos attempting to smear the reproductive health-care provider. He has repeatedly co-sponsored a scientifically dubious fetal pain measure.
The announcement of Coats’ nomination adds another name to the growing list of anti-choice advocates picked by Trump to help run his administration.
Coats voiced criticism of Trump while the Republican was on the campaign trail. “Donald Trump’s vulgar comments are totally inappropriate and disgusting, and these words have no place in our society,” he tweeted in October after video footage surfaced of Trump bragging in 2005 about groping and kissing women without consent.
Coats also expressed “serious concerns” over Trump’s ability to “provide presidential leadership” in a statement to the Associated Press in February 2016.