Charmaine Yoest, an outspoken pro-life leader and former president of Americans United for Life (AUL), has been chosen by the Trump administration to serve as assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Yoest will serve under another pro-life champion, former U.S. Representative Tom Price (R-Ga.), who was confirmed as HHS secretary in February. As a congressman Price had a perfect pro-life voting record and, like Yoest, has been a vocal proponent of cutting all federal funding to abortion giant Planned Parenthood, whose funding is funneled through HHS.
As HHS's assistant secretary for public affairs, Yoest will be front and center in shaping communications with regard to the department's policy and agenda. Her predecessor in the position, Kevin Griffis, is now vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood.
In its announcement the White House noted that Yoest “began her career serving in the White House under Ronald Reagan in the Office of Presidential Personnel. She also served as a Trump for President surrogate and as a senior advisor to the 2008 Huckabee for President campaign.”
In her role as head of AUL, Yoest was one of the pro-life movement's most vocal opponents of Planned Parenthood, noting that over the previous nearly five decades, the abortion giant “has become the expert in making money from ending lives.” She added that while Planned Parenthood “deceptively holds itself out as protecting women’s health,” it also “cuts legitimate health care in favor of abortion sales, while lobbying for more taxpayer largesse.” She challenged that “the time is now for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood and invest taxpayers’ hard-earned money in real healthcare that saves lives and safeguards women’s health.”
During her tenure at AUL, Yoest also took a major lead in pushing for legislation at the state level that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require women seeking abortions to undergo a sonogram, and impose tough regulations on abortion providers.
Planned Parenthood quickly issued a statement condemning Yoest's appointment, with spokesperson Dawn Laguens complaining that “Charmaine Yoest has spent her whole professional life opposing access to birth control and a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion. While President Trump claims to empower women, he is appointing government officials who believe just the opposite.”
By contrast, Father Frank Pavone from the pro-life group Priests for Life praised the appointment, telling The New American: “I have known and worked side by side with Charmaine for many years, and am delighted at her new appointment. Not only do I have confidence in the great job she will do, but this appointment should renew the confidence we all have in the commitment that President Trump and his Administration have to the pro-life cause.”
Similarly, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, called Yoest “one of the pro-life movement's most articulate and powerful communicators.”
And U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) tweeted: “Congrats to @CharmaineYoest on appointment as Asst Sec of @HHS. Yet again, this admin demonstrates strong commitment to the #prolife cause.”
The pro-life news site Lifenews.com reported that the appointment of Yoest “continues President Trump’s pro-life record that he started in January with reinstating the Mexico City policy defunding International Planned Parenthood and continued with defunding the pro-abortion UNFPA and signing a bill to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood abortion company.”