August 21, 2018 Press Release

HHS Chief Alex Azar Promotes Another Anti-Choice Careerist with Strong Ties to Susan B Anthony List

Equity Forwards calls promotion “slap in the face as women in this country are facing very real threats to their reproductive health and rights”

08.21.18 – In a tweet issued yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced anti-choice hardliner Steven Valentine’s promotion to Chief of Staff in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH).

Steven Valentine — who has already been promoted twice since he was first hired by HHS in March 2017, most recently as Deputy Chief of Staff of OASH — has deep ties to the anti-choice movement, including a long tenure working for vocal anti-reproductive health leader and longtime Pro-Life Caucus chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and the Susan B Anthony (SBA) List. In fact, prior to joining HHS, Steven Valentine worked solely for anti-choice officials and organizations and his older brother — Billy Valentine — is currently vice president of public policy at SBA List, which Equity Forward considers one of the most extreme and out-of-touch so-called “pro-life” groups.  Billy, in his role at SBA, has lobbied HHS on a variety of anti-choice priorities, including the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) Program and Title X while Steven, in his role at HHS, is regarded as the official who led the charge to gut TPPP.

This is not the first time someone with strong ties to the anti-reproductive health care movement has held this specific position at OASH: Valerie Huber, who made a career out of promoting abstinence-only and anti-contraception programs, previously held the position.

“The promotion of Steven Valentine is part and parcel of Alex Azar’s preference for stacking HHS with anti-choice hardliners,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward.

“Steven Valentine’s promotion is a veritable slap in the face as women in this country are facing very real threats to their reproductive health and rights.  Steven Valentine has spent his entire career working for officials and organizations that seek to criminalize women’s access to safe and legal abortion, including the extreme and out-of-touch SBA List.  Steven Valentine’s cozy ties to SBA List are particularly alarming, as their primary goal is to overturn Roe.”

“Alex Azar must stop hiring and then elevating ideologues whose sole purpose is to undermine the reproductive health programs they oversee.  Those in charge of our nation’s public health programs should focus on expanding our health care options, not gutting them.”