Katy Talento, a member of President Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, confirmed she is working on anti-choice policies for the administration in an interview Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Talento, who works on health-care policy, told Rewire she “handle[s] the pro-life issues” on the policy team. Talento didn’t specify which policies she focused on, but noted the council was “always looking to protect life.”
“The president has been very clear about where he stands on a lot of these issues, so we’re enacting his agenda and his policies,” she said.
After Trump co-sponsored a pro-choice fundraiser in 1989 and claimed to be “very pro-choice” in 1999, he shifted to an anti-choice stance in 2011. Trump’s ever-changing stance on abortion rights ignited controversy on the 2016 campaign trail when he claimed Planned Parenthood does “very good work” but should be defunded, and when he discussed altering the GOP’s anti-choice platform to include some exceptions. He never followed through with instituting those platform changes.
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“The president has committed to defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they’re still in the abortion business,” Talento said. “And so there is legislative activity around that, a couple different items, but [Trump] hasn’t taken, he hasn’t issued an endorsement of any of those bills at this point. But he is committed to defunding Planned Parenthood.”
“One of his first actions in office was reinstating the Mexico City Policy,” she said. Trump in January instituted the anti-choice rule prohibiting foreign nongovernmental organizations from receiving U.S. global family planning assistance if they provide abortion care or information about the medical procedure. Under the new iteration of the Reagan-era policy, the rule was expanded to apply to all “global health assistance furnished by all [U.S.] departments or agencies.”
Talento framed Trump’s expansion of the ban as “updating it for how foreign aid is structured today.”
An audience member asked Talento during her CPAC panel appearance if she would consider pitching a screening of the anti-choice film Gosnell for the president at the White House.
“Sure, in fact, the filmmakers of that, of Gosnell, were in the White House recently during the March for Life,” Talento said, noting she was able to meet the anti-choice filmmakers. “I will pass that on. I mean, we have a movie theater, it’s fun.”
Talento, speaking to Rewire, again voiced her support for a White House screening, but noted she had little control over whether it happened. “I think that’d be fun,” she said. “I think that’d be great, but I’m not in charge. All I can do is throw those requests up the chain.”
She clarified that the filmmakers had attended a reception for anti-choice leaders at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Talento is a purveyor of misinformation and falsehoods about reproductive health. Despite having a background in public health, she has repeatedly pushed myths about contraception, including the false claim that hormonal contraceptives cause abortions, miscarriages, and reduced fertility.
“It’s really disconcerting that someone who has public health experience is supporting these false claims,” Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, reproductive health advocacy fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Rewire when Talento was hired to Trump’s domestic policy team.
“It’s a real concern if this person is going to be crafting health-care policy,” she said. “What all medical and researchers want or should want, is evidence-based medical and public health policy, and these types of opinions about contraceptives are not informed by the evidence and could result in the creation of really harmful policies.”