Here we go again. Pretty much all of Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments are troubling and problematic so it’s hard to know where exactly to start with this one. On Friday, he announced that he will be appointing Charmaine Yoest as the assistant secretary for public affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She is the former president of the anti-abortion group, Americans United for Life:
Yoest is currently a fellow at American Values, a conservative group that opposes abortion and supports “traditional marriage.” She got her start in politics during the Reagan administration. From there she moved to the ultra-conservative Family Research Council and later served on Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign.
While she served as president of Americans United for Life, one of the most well-known anti-abortion groups in the country, Yoest was a prominent leader for the anti-abortion movement. As the New York Times noted in a 2012 profile of Yoest, AUL was responsible for one-third of state legislatures’ anti-abortion bills between 2011 and 2012.
Yoest’s stance on abortion isn’t particularly surprising given that Trump’s cabinet is shaping up to be a veritable smorgasbord of deplorable, out of touch folks who seem hellbent on taking women’s rights back to the era of Mad Men. But her views on science … now those are downright scary.
In 2012, Yoest told the New York Times that she believes abortions can cause breast cancer. When the Times noted that data show that claim isn’t true, Yoest would not back down and said that scientists are “under the control of the abortion lobby.”
“As a breast cancer survivor, the spin on abortion and breast cancer really troubles me,” she told the Times. “Why can’t you report what the research actually shows?”
This is a position that does not require Senate confirmation—which probably wouldn’t have mattered at this point anyway. And in her new role, Yoest will be responsible for helping to craft the communications strategy for HHS. This is not good news. A woman who actually believes that abortions cause breast cancer and that once described IUDs as having “life-ending properties” is now the top communicator for the government agency responsible for protecting the health and well-being of all Americans. Wake us up when this nightmare is finally over.