Connecting state and local government leaders

Chief Architect of State-level Anti-Abortion Laws Nominated to Top HHS Post

Charmaine Yoest.

Charmaine Yoest. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)


Connecting state and local government leaders

Charmaine Yoest led an organization single-mindedly devoted to the cause of making state laws as pro-life as possible.

WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday announced the latest round of expected nominations for the Trump administration and among them, listed at the very bottom of a press release, is Charmaine Yoest, a woman who has served as the chief architect for more than 300 abortion restrictions at the state level—perhaps more than any other pro-life advocate—over the course of her career. Her nomination is for a top communication post at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Yoest—who is described in the release as Dr. Yoest, although her degree is a Ph.D. in politics, not medicine—formerly served as the president and CEO of Americans United for Life, which is described in the White House release as a “public interest law firm.” That description doesn’t quite tell the whole truth.

In reality, AUL is an organization single-mindedly devoted to the cause of making state laws as pro-life as possible. To accomplish that goal, AUL has homed in on a quiet but incredibly effective strategy of circulating model legislation on topics ranging from “abortion reversal” to provisions that require doctors who perform the procedure to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Legislation written by AUL frequently goes against the medical community’s accepted practices, and has been shown to make abortion procedures prohibitively expensive for physicians and clinics.

The AUL has been involved with a mandate in Texas that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a sonogram, hear the physician describe the state of the fetus, and wait 24 hours before the procedure could be available to them. And, AUL-crafted legislation in Idaho, Nebraska, Virginia and other states allows state insurance exchanges to exclude companies that cover abortions.

Here’s an incomplete list of the pieces of model legislation available to order:

In March, Route Fifty wrote about a bill in Utah that bears a striking resemblance to a piece of model legislation created by AUL. The bill, which Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law, requires doctors to inform their patients undergoing medical abortions—that is, abortions by way of pill, rather than a surgical procedure—that the processes can be “reversed” should the women begin to regret their decision.

The corresponding AUL legislation is called the “Abortion-Inducing Drugs Information and Reporting Act.” The science behind this proposal is based on just a single study consisting of six women, and the mainstream medical community is unified in its condemnation of the practice.

In total, the group has an incredibly successful track record. In 2011, 22 states states enacted a record 86 measures, and in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor in that same year, Yoest boasted that 22 of those measures began in some form with AUL.

Quinn Libson is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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