April 6, 2018 Press Release

Equity Forward ED Discusses Sec. Azar’s Record on Politico Podcast

HHS & Sec. Azar Ignore Federal Judge, Forge Ahead with Unconstitutional Policy

04.06.18 – This week, Equity Forward executive director Mary Alice Carter appeared on Politico’s Pulse Check podcast. Among the issues she addressed are the dangerous reproductive health policies currently being pursued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Secretary Alex Azar.

“This is the first administration in the 50 years of Title X that has gone after the fundamental background and reason that Title X exists … There’s never been an administration like this one that is both very secretive in how they make their decisions and is doing the kind of moves to undermine reproductive health like this administration … So, any decision coming out of HHS now is Alex Azar’s baggage.” – Mary Alice Carter, Equity Forward executive director

In his first two months on the job, Secretary Azar has doubled down on policies that limit access to reproductive health care, making several alarming moves including these:

Secretary Azar has empowered Valerie Huber, an abstinence-only advocate, to make the final decisions on how Title X dollars under the nation’s largest birth control program are spent.

Secretary Azar has formally given Maggie Wynne oversight of critical areas within HHS, elevating a long time anti-reproductive health advocate and political donor.

We recently learned that it was HHS political appointees — namely Valerie Huber and Steven Valentine — who went over career civil servants and gutted the popular, bipartisan Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

Two more appointees are out at HHS. Cathy Deeds and Mary Vigil, who helped craft the Title X guidelines released last month, are no longer employed at HHS – but the agency won’t say why they left. Chaos and lack of transparency remain in the Office of Population Affairs.

And, more concerning news has come out about HHS and Secretary Alex Azar’s commitment to an unconstitutional, dangerous policy at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that violate the rule of law.

  • Deposition documents made public this week showed Director Lloyd’s inappropriate involvement in the reproductive health decisions of immigrant women.
  • Yet another federal court ruling came down that said, in no uncertain terms, that HHS’ policy was unconstitutional, and it cannot bar women from accessing abortion services and reproductive health care.
  • Following the ruling, Secretary Azar and HHS have doubled down on their commitment to the unconstitutional, anti-abortion policy rather than complying with a federal court decision outright. HHS issued a statement wherein it “strongly maintains that taxpayers are not responsible for facilitating the abortion of unaccompanied minors who entered the country illegally and are currently in the government’s care.”

As Carter said on Politico’s Pulse Check podcast, “The buck stops with Alex Azar.”