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Alex Azar

Secretary Alex Azar

Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services

Alex M. Azar II is an attorney, former pharmaceutical company executive and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) veteran. Having clerked for conservative judges including Antonin Scalia and worked for President George W. Bush, Azar has been well-connected in conservative circles for decades. While serving as Governor of Indiana, now-VP Mike Pence even considered replacing his first lieutenant governor with Azar. At HHS, Azar has been most infamous for how his department has handled the thousands of immigrant children separated from their parents by the Trump administration, hundreds of whom have yet to be returned to their parents.

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Azar leads the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal government department responsible for programs integral to country’s health and well-being, including ensuring access to birth control for low-income people, protecting the civil rights of those seeking health care, processing new drugs for approval and administering the Affordable Care Act among other federal health care programs — areas that have been continuously targeted by HHS while Azar has been secretary. During his tenure, Azar has continued to empower and promote anti-abortion ideologues who have been appointed to HHS purely for their political stances and who consistently attack the very programs they have been installed to administer.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

Seraphim Strategies, 2017

President of Lilly USA LLC, 2012 – 2017

Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Communications, Eli Lilly and Co., 2007 – 2012

Various roles at HHS, 2001 – 2007

Associate Independent Counsel, Office of the Independent Counsel, 1994 – 1996

Law Clerk to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court, 1992 – 1993

Law Clerk to Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 1991 – 1992

Law Clerk to Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1991

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

Mike Pence:

While working as an executive at the Indiana-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, Azar became a close advisor and key campaign contributor to then-Governor Mike Pence, who has been dubbed “one of the most anti-abortion Republicans in Washington.” John Hammond, an Indiana Republication National Committee member, remarked that, “Alex was one of a handful of people Pence would consult on a regular basis,” and Pence even considered Azar for the position of lieutenant governor. The Washington Post reported that Pence played “a big role” in recommending Azar to Trump for the HHS secretary job.

Brett Kavanaugh:  

In 1991, now-US Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Azar when he departed a clerkship for Judge Alex Kozinski’s after a mere six weeks. Kozinski has since resigned following rampant allegations of sexual misconduct. “Azar’s social circle at the time included Kavanaugh, who he has called a good friend.” Later, Azar and Kavanaugh worked together for Ken Starr in the Clinton-focused Whitewater investigation. Years later, Kavanaugh dissented from a D.C. circuit court opinion that allowed a 17-year-old young woman in HHS custody to obtain an abortion.

HIGHLIGHTS

While Deputy Secretary of HHS, Azar Gave A Speech Thanking Those Who Protect The Unborn:

In an August 2006 speech to the Islamic Medical Association of North America, Azar thanked the organization for its “emphasis on protecting the health and well-being of the unborn…” and said he shared the same commitment. Azar also highlighted federal laws that “protect doctors and medical students from being pressured by their schools, employers, or accrediting bodies into performing or referring for abortions.”  [HHS Speech, 8/31/06]

As Secretary of HHS In 2019, Azar Declared HHS “The Department Of Life", Referencing The Department’s Strategic Plan, Which “For The First Time Ever” Defines Life As Beginning At Conception:

“We have in our strategic plan at HHS for the first time ever — it actually declares support for life from the moment of conception up through natural death. Because we are the department of life.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

THE WHOLE STORY

As Trump’s Health Chief, Azar Has Empowered And Promoted Anti-Abortion Advocates Within His Ranks

Azar’s Appointment To HHS Was Heralded By Anti-Abortion Activists.

Anti-Abortion Groups Including Susan B. Anthony List Praised Azar’s Confirmation As HHS Secretary. “Pro-life groups were delighted by the vote and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser praised his confirmation in a statement to LifeNews:  ‘We congratulate Alex Azar on being confirmed as head of HHS. He takes the reins at a time when major pro-life policy initiatives are being rolled out at this crucial department. Azar’s commitment to HHS’ mission ‘to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans,’ including unborn children and their mothers, is so encouraging. We are confident that he has the experience and enthusiasm to lead the way in implementing President Trump’s pro-life priorities.’” [Life News, 1/24/18]

…And The Anti-Abortion Website “Life Site News” Stated That “Azar’s Nomination Is Seen As A Bright Light To Continue The Pro-Life Policies.” “Azar’s nomination is seen as a bright light to continue the pro-life policies President Donald Trump has put into place to overturn the mandates the Obama Administration put forward that forced Christians to fund abortion drugs.  Here is more on the relevant line of questioning from the senate committee hearing: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Azar about this crucial women’s health issue. The Trump administration took steps in October to make it easier for employers to limit coverage of birth control in their employees’ health insurance plans. Murray asked if Azar would commit to putting ‘science and health care access first,’ rather than ‘ideology and extremism.’  ‘We have to balance a woman’s choice of insurance with the conscience of their employers,’ Azar responded.” [Life News, 1/24/18]

Azar Backed An HHS Official Who Was Preventing Women In HHS Care From Accessing Necessary Reproductive Health Care And Endangering Young Migrant Children.

Azar Claims To Be Low Drama And Intolerant Of Ethics Issues…

Azar “Has A Really Low Tolerance For Drama.” “Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had planned to send a clear message to Congress and his new boss in the White House that he would not tolerate ethically questionable behavior…“Alex has a really low tolerance for drama,” a person familiar with Azar’s thinking said. “He wants the president to look at HHS and say, ‘This is my workhorse. This is the place where I’m getting stuff done.’”…In recent weeks, Azar specifically told associates that he'd take a hard line on any ethical problems in the department, and pledged to lawmakers and the White House that his agency would be far more businesslike in advancing the GOP’s health priorities than it was during Price’s era. [Politico 1/31/18]

Azar Has Stood By His Controversial Refugee Director Scott Lloyd Despite His Many Scandals…

Azar Stood By His Employee, Scott Lloyd, After It Was Revealed That He Suggested The Holocaust Was Better Than Abortion. “Scott Lloyd, who has come under fire recently for blocking unaccompanied minors in government custody from getting abortions, wrote in an essay 15 years ago as a Catholic University law school student that the similarities between abortion and the Holocaust are ‘crystal clear.’  ‘The Jews who died in the Holocaust had a chance to laugh, play, sing, dance, learn, and love each other. The victims of abortion do not, simply because people have decided this is the way it should be, not through any proper discernment of their humanity,’ Lloyd reportedly wrote in the 2004 essay…An HHS spokesperson did not deny the accuracy of the report in a statement to The Hill.  ‘Mr. Lloyd has testified publicly to his personal and religious beliefs regarding abortion, and explained he does not let his religion guide his job as ORR director,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Mr. Lloyd is committed to the mission of the agency, and his concern and compassion for those who come into the care of ORR.’” [The Hill, 8/22/18]

…Azar Also Stood By Lloyd When He Was Surrounded By Controversy For Personally Intervening In Young Women’s Access To Abortion. “U.S. Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar defended Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd at a congressional hearing Thursday, as calls for Lloyd’s ouster intensified.  U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) told Azar at the House of Representatives subcommittee hearing that Lloyd should be ‘fired immediately’ for overstepping his authority in ‘violating young immigrant women’s privacy, their right to medical care, and in some cases, their safety, and blocking them from accessing safe and legal abortions.’ …During the question-and-answer portion of Thursday’s congressional hearing with Azar, DeLauro read the job description for ORR director, reminding Azar that Lloyd is not a doctor and that he has ‘forced his religious beliefs on young immigrant women over and over and over again’ and ‘put their lives in danger.’   When DeLauro questioned Azar about what he has done to address Lloyd’s behavior, Azar said he didn’t ‘believe this is an issue involving Mr. Lloyd’ and that his agency has a ‘statutory obligation to look after these children, and their unborn children.’” [Rewire News, 3/15/18]

Despite Lloyd’s Controversies Azar Said He “Absolutely” Still Had Confidence In Lloyd’s Ability To Run The Office. “Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has steadfastly defended Lloyd, telling POLITICO in March that he ‘absolutely’ still had confidence in his ability to run the office. “ [Politico, 6/21/18]

Azar Didn’t Even Fire Lloyd After He Waived Mandatory Child Abuse And Neglect Checks At An ORR Facility…

The “Child Abuse And Neglect” Check Is A Child Protective Services Check Performed By The State To Determine If An Individual Has A Record Of “Substantiated Maltreatment Of A Child.” “These background checks must include, at a minimum, two separate types of checks: (1) an FBI fingerprint check of national and State criminal history repositories and (2) a child protective services check performed by the State, also known as the child abuse and neglect check (CA/N). Both checks must be updated at a minimum of every 5 years…The CA/N check determines whether an individual has a record of substantiated maltreatment of a child. ORR requires care provider facilities to complete the check with the staff’s State(s) of U.S. residence during the last 5 years. CA/N checks are performed by State authorities. Currently, there is no Federal or national repository to facilitate conducting these types of checks.” [HHS OIG Report, 11/27/18]

Although ORR-Funded Facilities Are Required To Conduct CA/N Checks On Their Staff, The ORR Director Has The Authority To Waive Or Modify The Requirement For “Good Cause”… “Although ORR policy requires that ORR-funded facilities conduct CA/N checks on their staff, ORR has the authority to waive or modify this requirement. Specifically, ORR regulations provide that the ORR Director may, using unreviewable discretion, waive or modify specific sections of the regulation for an emergency care provider facility for ‘good cause.’” [HHS OIG Report, 11/27/18]

…In June 2018, Former ORR Director Scott Lloyd Granted Tornillo A Waiver To Allow The Tornillo Facility Not To Comply With The “Child Abuse And Neglect” Check. “We found that Tornillo was not conducting the required CA/N check. During our communications with ORR staff, we learned that ORR had granted Tornillo a waiver from conducting the CA/N check. The ORR Director had granted Tornillo a waiver of the CA/N checks in a memorandum dated June 12, 2018, two days before Tornillo began its operations. ORR’s rationale for the waiver was based on two concerns: the urgent time constraints that the facility was under in order to be operational in a short time and that the State may be unwilling or unable to perform CA/N checks for a facility that was under Federal jurisdiction.” [HHS OIG Report, 11/27/18]

  • Lloyd’s June Memo Was “Justified” On The Basis That “Staff At Tornillo Had Undergone FBI Fingerprint Background Checks,” Which Was Not The Case. “The memorandum further justified waiver of the CA/N checks on the basis of ORR’s assumption that staff at Tornillo had undergone FBI fingerprint background checks. However, as OIG has learned, that was not the case” [HHS OIG Report, 11/27/18]

Azar Continued To Stand By Lloyd Despite Numerous Calls From Elected Officials For Lloyd To Leave The Department.

Senator Patty Murray Called For Scott Lloyd To Resign As ORR Director. “Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate health committee, called for Scott Lloyd to resign as the Director of the Department of Health and Humans Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), following news that Lloyd openly admitted to an ‘ad hoc’ strategy of personally attempting to block young women in ORR’s custody from obtaining abortions, regardless of any conflicts with federal and state laws. ORR oversees the network of providers that care for unaccompanied children and youth in the United States.” [Press Release, Senator Patty Murray, 3/1/18]

Senator Diane Feinstein Called For Scott Lloyd To Resign Over His Attempts To Block Young Women From Accessing Medical Care. “I’ve called for Scott Llyod to resign as head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. He has used his official office to block vulnerable young women from accessing medical care. That’s unacceptable!” [@SenFeinstein, Twitter 3/7/18]

Rep. Rosa DeLauro Has Led An Effort To Oust Scott Lloyd As ORR Director. “‘You can go back and check my comments on this: I’ve called for his resignation,’ said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who’s led the effort to oust Lloyd. ‘I have no faith in him at all. I think his own ideological beliefs will get in the way of doing something effective.’” [Politico, 6/21/18]

…Instead Of Firing Lloyd For His Incompetence, Azar Simply Reassigned Him To A Different Department.  

Lloyd Was Removed As ORR Director And Reassigned To The Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. “Scott Lloyd, the anti-abortion crusader who headed the Office of Refugee Resettlement during the Trump administration’s monthlong experiment with family separations at the border, will no longer serve in that role. Instead, he will work at Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives…ORR’s current chief of staff Jonathan Hayes will serve as interim director.” [Huffington Post, 11/19/18]

Azar Also Promoted And Empowered An Anti-Abortion Ideologue With Almost No Health Policy Experience And An Animus Toward Evidence-Based Programs…  

Azar Promoted A 28-Year-Old Anti-Abortion Ideologue To A Top Position At HHS Despite His Lack Of Experience In Health Policy…   

In August 2018, Steven Valentine Was Promoted To Chief Of Staff Of The Assistant Secretary For Health. On March 5, 2017, Valentine was formally appointed to be Associate Director for Policy in HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH). In November 2017, Valentine became the Deputy Chief of Staff of OASH. On August 20, 2018 Valentine was promoted to Chief of Staff of the Assistant Secretary for Health. [OGE Form 278e, filed 1/13/17; LinkedIn, accessed 4/2/18; HHS Public Affairs Twitter, 8/20/18]

Steven Valentine’s Only Work Experience Prior To Joining HHS Was As A Junior Staffer To An Anti-Abortion Representative And As An Interim Staffer For The Anti-Abortion Group Susan B. Anthony List. From September 2011 to 2014, Steven Valentine served as a staff assistant to Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey in his Washington, D.C. office. From January 2014 to January 2017, he served as a Legislative Assistant to Rep. Chris Smith. From February 2011 to September 2011, Valentine served as Interim Legislative Director of Susan B Anthony List where he “researched past and pending legislation… drafted action alerts to organization members and activists, and drafted talking points for policymakers and activists.”  [Steven Valentine, Resume, accessed via American Oversight]

…Azar Promoted Valentine Even After He Led The Decimation Of The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

Valentine Took The Lead In Reversing The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program In June 2017. “The Trump administration’s abrupt cancellation of a federal program to prevent teen pregnancy last year was directed by political appointees over the objections of career experts in the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the program, according to internal notes and emails obtained by NBC News. The trove shows three appointees with strict pro-abstinence beliefs — including Valerie Huber, the then-chief of staff for the department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health — guided the process to end a program many medical professionals credit with helping to bring the nation’s teen pregnancy rate to an all-time low… In a June 21 note by Kappeler, Steven Valentine, Huber’s deputy, is described as having “taken the lead” in reversing the program. Valentine directed Kappeler to halt the review process for the grants, the notes say.” [NBC News, 3/20/18]

...A Move That Has Been Repeatedly Overturned By At Least Five Federal Courts For Blatantly Running Afoul Of Federal Law…

Federal Judges Ruled Against HHS’ Changes Because They Violated The Administrative Procedure Act When They Were Done With No “Reasoned Explanation.” “When a typical federal agency makes a decision, particularly one abruptly reversing course, it owes an explanation. That’s the law. So when newly installed Trump administration officials at a Department of Health and Human Services agency, suddenly under the sway of officials who championed abstinence as the best way to prevent teen pregnancy, suddenly cut off funding to 81 pregnancy prevention programs in July 2017, it was asking for lawsuits. The Office of Adolescent Health had provided no notice to the programs and no explanation. Suits erupted across the country, aided by advocacy groups and local governments. Four government lawyers then found themselves in the courtroom of Judge Ketanji B. Jackson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on April 18 for a hearing. “Good morning, Your Honor, Michael Gerardi on behalf of Health and Human Services,” the lead trial attorney said. But it would not be a good morning for Gerardi, either. Jackson pressed him. “So is it your position,” the judge asked incredulously, that “the agency can suddenly decide, ‘We’re not giving you this money anymore…Too bad. So sad.’ Regardless of whether there’s cause or anything else?” To which Gerardi, replied at some length, yes, that was the position.  That’s “kind of weird,” Jackson replied. “Right?” She joined at least four judges in separate courts around the country in rulings against the agency under the Administrative Procedure Act. The case, she wrote, was “quite easy. Under the most elementary precepts of administrative law, an agency has no choice but to provide a reasoned explanation for its actions.”” [Washington Post, 10/19/18]

…And Promoted An Abstinence-Only Advocate With No Previous Government Experience To Oversee The Nation’s Only Family Planning Program.

Valerie Huber Has Spent Nearly Two Decades Promoting Abstinence-Only, Anti-Birth Control Programs With No Federal Government Experience…

Huber Founded R.E.A.C.H. Of Southwestern Ohio To Teach Abstinence To School-Aged Children. “Valerie Huber would like to see Darke County students perform below the national average. That is, below the national average for teen promiscuity, and drug and alcohol abuse. Huber is director of Responsibility Education for Abstinence and Character, or REACH, an Arcanum-based nonprofit organization that provides resources for the promotion of abstinence before marriage to Darke County schools. A recent survey revealed that county youth ranked with the national average in drug and alcohol abuse, Huber said. ‘And while sexual activity among teens nationwide has decreased, locally the numbers have risen,’ she said. ‘We would think, being a rural area, we would be way below national average in both drug and alcohol use, but for the last couple of years that has not been the case.’ Huber hopes the organization, which has support from parents and the community, will help the students develop the character and value system they need to make the right choices in tempting situations.” [Dayton Daily News, 4/20/00]

In April 2018, Huber Was Promoted To Senior Advisor In The Office Of The Assistant Secretary. “Valerie Huber, a prominent abstinence education advocate at HHS, has been promoted to senior adviser in an office overseeing public health issues, per an internal email to HHS staff today.” [Twitter, @rachanadixit, 4/10/18]

Azar Is Overseeing The Policy Transformation Of HHS Into A Satellite Office Of The Anti-Abortion Movement

Azar Has Been Overseeing The Dramatic Rollback Of Reproductive Rights At HHS…

Azar’s HHS Has Made Numerous Attempts To Eliminate Funding For Medical Providers Who Provide Or Refer For Abortion Services…  

Under Azar’s Leadership, HHS Announced A Proposal To Pull Federal Funds From Medical Providers That Perform Or Even Provide Referrals For Abortion Services. “The Trump administration is proposing to bar clinics that provide abortion services or referrals from receiving federal family-planning funds, a far-reaching move that would deprive Planned Parenthood and other women’s health centers of millions of dollars a year.  The proposal would require a ‘bright line’ of physical and financial separation between clinics that receive $260 million annually in federal funding and any organization that provides abortions or referrals to abortion clinics. The move delivers on a long-held objective of abortion opponents, who are staunch supporters of President Trump.” [Washington Post, 5/18/18]

Azar’s HHS Also Radically Altered The Points System For Evaluating Grantees For The Nation’s Only Family Planning Program, Emphasizing Abstinence And “Natural Family Planning.” “In addition to program priorities, the following key issues should be considered in developing the project plan:…5. A meaningful emphasis on education and counseling that communicates the social science research and practical application of topics related to healthy relationships, to committed, safe, stable, healthy marriages, and the benefits of avoiding sexual risk or returning to a sexually risk-free status, especially (but not only) when communicating with adolescents; 6. Activities for adolescents that do not normalize sexual risk behaviors, but instead clearly communicate the research informed benefits of delaying sex or returning to a sexually risk-free status.” [Announcement of Anticipated Availability of Funds for Family Planning Services Grants, HHS, FY2018]

Azar’s HHS Issued Rules To Roll Back Insurance Coverage For Birth Control.

October 2018: Azar’s HHS Proposed A Rule To Expand Religious Exemptions For Providing Birth Control In Health Plans. “A new rule on contraceptives was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget last week, which reviews regulations before release. If it moves forward, this would be the government’s second attempt to expand religious exemptions for providing birth control in health plans.  In October 2017 the Trump administration tried to broaden dramatically companies’ ability to claim ‘religious exemptions’ to birth control mandates by issuing rules to allow companies to opt out on the basis of ‘moral conviction’.” [The Guardian, 10/18/18]

On November 6, 2018 Trump’s HHS Issued Two Federal Rules Allowing Employers To Deny Insurance Coverage Of Birth Control On Religious Or Moral Grounds, Including For-Profit Businesses… “The Trump administration issued a pair of federal rules on Wednesday that allow some employers to deny insurance coverage of birth control on religious or moral grounds, plowing ahead despite a legal and ideological tempest.  The rules notch a deep exception to a federal requirement under the Obama-era interpretation of the Affordable Care Act that essential health benefits must include coverage of contraception at no charge to consumers. The circumvention of this mandate, first proposed by Trump health officials a year ago, is part of the administration’s alliance with social conservatives for whom ‘religious liberty’ has become a central cause and who had objected to the contraceptive mandate.” [Washington Post, 11/7/18]

…And In November 2018, Azar’s HHS Proposed A Rule To Rollback Access To Abortion For Low Income Women.

Less Than 24 Hours After The 2018 Midterms, HHS Announced A Proposed Rule To Require Separation Of Billing In ACA Health Plans For The Part Of Coverage Relating To Abortion Services. “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the branch of HHS that oversees much of the ACA, proposed a new rule on Wednesday that is similar in spirit, requiring a greater separation of billing in ACA health plans for the part of coverage relating to abortion services that cannot be paid for with federal money.  HHS officials downplayed the impact of the contraceptive rules, as they did when first proposing the idea. They predicted that the exemptions will be invoked by ‘no more than approximately 200 employers’ and affect the coverage of birth control for perhaps 6,400 women.” [Washington Post, 11/7/18]

…Which Came Just Days After Anti-Abortion Activists Penned An Op-Ed Asking HHS To Issue This Rule.  

Marjorie Dannenfelser And Tony Perkins Urged HHS To Issue A New Rule Requiring Separate Payment For Abortion Services Just One Week Before The Proposed Rule. “In just a few days, Americans will have the opportunity to purchase ObamaCare insurance plans either through the federal exchange or state-based exchange. Unfortunately, many consumers who sign up for coverage will end up paying a hidden abortion surcharge as a part of their monthly premium. As we enter the second open enrollment period of the Trump administration, we encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a new rule shedding daylight on the abortion surcharge and giving consumers the right to refrain from paying it.” [Marjorie Dannenfelser & Tony Perkins, The Hill, 10/30/18]

Azar Seems To Be Putting Politics Ahead Of Vital Public Health Research And Medical Science.

Azar Terminated A Fetal Tissue Contract At The Directive Of Anti-Choice Groups…

Azar Caved To Anti-Abortion Activists By Terminating A Contract With A Fetal Tissue Supplier Shortly After Receiving A Letter From Anti-Abortion Activists To End All Government Funding Of Fetal Tissue Research. “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week that it had terminated a contract between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and fetal tissue supplier Advanced Bioscience Resources Inc. (ABR) and had begun a review of all agency fetal tissue policies. The FDA had renewed ABR’s contract in late July, and the company has held contracts with the federal government for many years.  The announcement follows a mid-September letter from anti-choice leaders pressuring the head of HHS, Alex Azar, to review ABR’s contract and end all government funding of fetal tissue research. Anti-choice groups claim that fetal tissue procurement companies create a profit incentive for providers to increase the number of abortions they perform.” [Rewire, 10/3/18]

  • According To The Assistant Secretary For Health, Secretary Azar Ordered The Review Of Fetal Tissue Research Contracts. “Giroir said Pence did not prompt the review of fetal tissue research. HHS Secretary Alex Azar ordered it after the Food and Drug Administration contract with Advanced Bioscience came to his attention, he said.  ‘To my knowledge, nobody in the White House is involved,’ Giroir said, ‘and they certainly haven’t been involved with me.'” [Washington Post, 12/13/18]
  • An Unnamed FDA Spokesperson Said Fetal Tissues Has Been Used “Where It Is Critical To Understanding the Safety of Drugs And Vaccines.” “But an FDA spokesperson told POLITICO that fetal tissue 'has been used in situations where it is critical to understanding the safety of drugs and vaccines and in which it couldn’t be feasibly achieved through another means. This work has led to a better understanding of a number of conditions and diseases that affect millions of Americans.'”  [Politico, 9/28/18]

…And Despite The Recommendation Of Scientists, Azar’s HHS Is Seeking Input From An Anti-Abortion Political Group In Weighing Its Plans To Discontinue Fetal Tissue Research Projects…

HHS Is Weighing Plans to Discontinue More Than $100 Million in Research Projects That Use Fetal Tissue... “The Trump administration is continuing to weigh plans to discontinue more than $100 million in research projects that use fetal tissue, alarming scientists and some HHS officials while invigorating the president's supporters in the anti-abortion community.” [Politico, 11/13/18]

…Defying The Stated Recommendations Of Scientists And Instead Seeking Input From The Political Anti-Abortion Group Susan B Anthony List.  “The White House last week convened a meeting to consider canceling the projects, according to two individuals with knowledge, and anti-abortion groups like Susan B. Anthony List have been invited to give input. Scientists who use fetal tissue in their research also have been invited to defend their work. ‘HHS is holding multiple listening sessions with various stakeholders [like] scientists, pro-life groups, ethicists, on this topic,’ a spokesperson confirmed to POLITICO.” [Politico, 11/13/18]

  • Larry Goldstein, the Director of UC San Diego's Stem Cell Program Stated That the Cancellation of Research Using Fetal Tissue Will “slow Some Projects Down That Are Vital for Sick Americans.” “Scientists have blasted the Trump administration's review, warning that canceling the contracts would be a setback for medical research. ‘It will slow some projects down that are vital for sick Americans,’ said Larry Goldstein, the director of UC San Diego's stem cell program.” [Politico, 11/13/18]

Azar’s HHS Is Also Attempting To Define Transgender Individuals Out Of Existence…

Under Azar’s Leadership, HHS Is Reportedly Considering “The Most Drastic Move Yet In A Governmentwide Effort To Roll Back Recognition And Protections Of Transgender People Under Federal Civil Rights Law.” “The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law…Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.” [New York Times, 10/21/18]

…A Move That Has Been Condemned By Medical Groups For Being Harmful To “Public Health."

The HIV Medicine Association And The Infectious Disease Society Of America Stated That HHS’ Reported Intentions Of Redefining Gender “Harm Individual And Public Health…Further Challenging Responses To The HIV And Sexually Transmitted Infection Epidemics In The U.S.” “The administration’s reported intention to redefine gender based entirely on sex at birth disregards not only current biologic science but also established, prevailing medical and legal standards, while re-enforcing stigma and discrimination against transgender people.  The members of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association strongly oppose any laws or policies that discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. These policies harm individual and public health by impeding access to personal medical care while further challenging responses to the HIV and sexually transmitted infection epidemics in the U.S.” [HIV Medicine Association, 10/22/18]

Azar Has A History Of Supporting Anti-Abortion Candidates And Causes

Azar Is A Long-Time Donor And Supporter Of Abortion Objectors And Anti-Choice Sentiments.    

In 2012, Azar Contributed $500 To Todd Rokita, Who Has Stated That He Is “A Hundred Percent Pro-Life Without Exception.” “He and [Todd] Rokita voted in October for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions after a fetus reaches 20 weeks, because that is the time at which nerve connections are made in the fetus. The Senate is expected to take an initial vote Monday on the legislation, which has exceptions for rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life.  ‘Abortion is not, and has never been a right,’ Banks said. ‘Life is the most important right given to us by God and protected by our Constitution.’ Rokita, who attended the Washington March for Life, said, ‘I’m a hundred percent pro-life without exception.’” [News Sentinel, 1/28/18]

In 2012, Azar Contributed $500 To Tea Party Backed Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock, Who Stated That “Even When Life Begins In That Horrible Situation Of Rape, That It Is Something That God Intended To Happen.” “In a Tuesday night debate with his Democratic rival and a Libertarian candidate for one of Indiana’s U.S. Senate seats, Republican candidate Richard Mourdock suggested that pregnancies resulting from rape are ‘something that God intended to happen,’ despite the ‘horrible situation’ from which they derived.  Mourdock, a Tea Party-backed candidate who beat longtime moderate Senator Richard Lugar in the state’s Republican nominating contest earlier this year, expressed his view that ‘life begins at conception’ and that he would only allow abortions in circumstances in which the mother’s life was in danger. ‘I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,’ Mourdock said. ‘And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.’” [CBS News, 10/24/12]

Azar Has Made Several Large-Dollar Contributions To Former Senator Dan Coats, A Long-Time Opponent Of Abortion Rights Who Has Proposed Strict Measures To Limit Access To Abortion. “Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), who is anti-abortion, had proposed a stringent parental notification measure. Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine)  offered a counterproposal creating several exceptions. The plan was to vote on Mitchell‘s proposal first. By passing it, senators could then turn around and vote against Coats, but still claim to support parental notification. That would neutralize a potentially touchy issue at election time.  Mitchell‘s plan sailed through, 54-45. But then the Senate turned around and approved Coats‘ amendment, 52-47. Seven senators voted yes on both amendments, though the sponsors had described them as mutually exclusive. Coats‘ amendment would require a 48-hour wait for a minor seeking abortion, so that at least one parent could be notified. It would have provided for exceptions in cases of incest with a parent or guardian, abuse, or parental neglect.” [Chicago Tribune, 7/17/91]

  • Coats Has Been Endorsed By The Extremist Susan B Anthony List For His “Commitment To Rescind Taxpayer Funding Of Abortion In Health Care And In Every Aspect Of Federal Spending.” “‘Once again, the Senate is in great need of the pro-life statesmanship Dan Coats has already proven time and again to possess.  His commitment to rescind taxpayer funding of abortion in health care and in every aspect of federal spending is urgently needed in the coming Congress.’” [Press Release, Susan B. Anthony List, 7/8/10]

Alex Azar Thanked Medical Association Of America For Its Commitment To “Unborn." “In particular, I would like to thank you for your work to raise cultural sensitivities in health care, such as the needs Muslim women have in accessing care.  I would also like to thank you for your emphasis on protecting the health and well-being of the unborn, the sick, and the dying. Protecting the rights of those individuals is something President Bush, Secretary Leavitt, and I are particularly committed to as well. A few years ago, President Bush signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which ensures that every infant born alive-including an infant who survives an abortion procedure-is considered a person under federal law.” [Remarks to the Islamic Medical Association of North America, 8/31/06]

Azar Failed To Condemn His Friend Brett Kavanaugh Amidst Sexual Assault Allegations Against The Justice

Azar Is A Close Friend Of Controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Who Catered To Anti-Abortion HHS Appointees While A Circuit Judge

Azar And Kavanaugh Have Been “Close Friends” Since The Early 1990’s And Azar Has Touted Their Friendship…   

Azar And Kavanaugh Served On Ken Starr’s Legal Team During The Team’s Investigations Of President Bill Clinton… “[Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth] Starr appointed Mark H. Tuohey III, a Washington white-collar criminal defense lawyer, to complete the investigation of the handling of documents in former White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster’s office after Foster’s suicide in July 1993. Among those documents was a file on the Clinton’s Whitewater real estate investment…He will be assisted by two young Washington lawyers, Alex M. Azar II and Brett M. Kavanaugh, both Yale Law School graduates who served as law clerks for conservative judges, Azar for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Kavanaugh for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.” [Washington Post, 9/13/94]

…They Also Worked Together In The Early 1990s As Clerks On The Supreme Court. “The two worked closely together beginning in the early 1990s, serving as clerks together on the Supreme Court and as lawyers on the Whitewater investigation. And after Azar abruptly departed a federal clerkship in 1991, Kavanaugh stepped in to replace him.” [Politico, 10/4/18]

Kavanaugh Replaced Azar When He Abruptly Departed A Prestigious Clerkship For A Now-Disgraced Federal Judge. “Azar got the job with Kozinski but left it six weeks later, a decision that was described by one fellow classmate at the time as “jaw-dropping” because the clerkship was seen as a clear path to a clerkship at the supreme court. Azar has never explained publicly why he left, but people close to him at the time told the Guardian they believe that Azar, a social conservative, may have felt uncomfortable with Kozinski’s behaviour, which it later emerged included looking at copious amounts of pornography in the office.” [The Guardian, 10/1/18]

…And When Kavanaugh Was Selected To Serve On The Supreme Court, Azar Touted Their Close 30-Year Friendship. [@SecAzar, Twitter, 7/9/18]  

 

…Azar Refused To Speak Out When Kavanaugh’s Confirmation To The Supreme Court Was Mired By Allegations Of Sexual Assault Against Him.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Was Mired By Sexual Assault Allegations And His Contentious Refutation In Front Of The Senate Judiciary Committee. “The confirmation was supposed to be a straightforward affair. Kavanaugh, 53, is a candidate straight out of Supreme Court central casting: He went to Yale and Yale Law; he clerked for two federal appellate judges; worked in the solicitor general’s office in the George H.W. Bush administration; and then clerked for Kennedy on the Supreme Court.  But on September 14, the whole story changed. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow reported that Senate Democrats had received an anonymous allegation from a woman claiming that Kavanaugh, as a high school student, ‘held her down, and…attempted to force himself on her.’ Two days later, the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward and confirmed the allegation on the record. Days later, Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, alleged that he exposed himself to her; shortly after, Julie Swetnick said she knew Kavanaugh when they were high school students and witnessed him sexually harass girls.” [Vox, 10/5/18]

As A Judge, Kavanaugh Has Caved To Anti-Abortion Activists, Including In A High Profile Case Against HHS.

Kavanaugh Provided The Dissenting Opinion Of A Circuit Court Case Allowing A Young Undocumented Woman To Obtain An Abortion. “In his dissent Tuesday, Kavanaugh said the government should be able to ‘expeditiously transfer’ the teenager to a sponsor — typically a relative or friend — who could help her make a major life decision. The government, Kavanaugh wrote, ‘is merely seeking to place the minor in a better place when deciding whether to have an abortion.’” [The Washington Post, 10/24/17]

Kavanaugh Claimed That The Decision Created A New Right For Undocumented Immigrant Minors In Custody To “Immediate Abortion On Demand.” “In the dissent were the court’s three active judges nominated to the bench by Republican presidents. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh said the majority has ‘badly erred’ and created a new right for undocumented immigrant minors in custody to ‘immediate abortion on demand.’” [The Washington Post, 10/24/17]

Azar Called HHS “The Department Of Life” In An Interview At A Hate Group Hours Before Participating In March For Life 2019

The HHS Secretary Paid A Last-Minute Visit To The “Pro-Life Con” At The Family Research Council — A Southern Poverty Law Center Designated Hate Group — On January 18, 2019.

The Family Research Council Is A SPLC Designated Hate Group. “The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people as the organization battles against same-sex marriage, hate crime laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. To make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society, the FRC employs a number of ‘policy experts’ whose ‘research’ has allowed the FRC to be extremely active politically in shaping public debate. Its research fellows and leaders often testify before Congress and appear in the mainstream media. It also works at the grassroots level, conducting outreach to pastors in an effort to ‘transform the culture.’” [splcenter.org]

In His Remarks, Azar Spoke To His Department’s Coziness With The White House.

When FRC Interviewer Tony Perkins Praised Anti-Abortion Lobby’s “Progress” In The Past Two Years, Azar Gave Credit To Trump And His “Friend And Mentor” Mike Pence. “Yes… so much progress has happened in the past two years. That’s really because we have President Trump who’s gotta be one of the most pro-life presidents in American history with courage to actually live up to and of course with Vice President Mike Pence, my friend and mentor leading the charge also.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

Azar Called HHS A “Pro-Life, Pro-Science Team” Committed To Protecting The “Freedom Of Life” And “The Freedom Of Conscience.”

He Said The Freedoms Of Life And Conscience Are “The Most Fundamental Freedoms We Have.” “Just this morning we at HHS announced that the state of California is in violation of the Weldon Amendment and the Coats-Snowe provision that prevents discrimination against health care providers who refuse to provide or refer for abortion services. That’s the first time in history that’s been done, enforcing those provisions… It’s really important, and it shows I think what we’re trying to do as a pro-life administration, a pro-life, pro-science team at HHS, is we’re really trying to protect two of the most important and fundamental freedoms we have. The first is the freedom of life and the second is of conscience, and we try to make sure that both of those are respected in everything that we do and in all of our programs.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

  • Azar Called The “Right To Conscience As Foundational As The Right To Life.” “The right to conscience is as foundational as the right to life in our perspective. We at HHS, we’re a massive department with 1.3 trillion dollars of programs, we’re over one-fourth of the U.S. government, 330 programs, and the president and I and my predecessor I think have demonstrated very strong leadership here to make sure that we have a culture of protecting life, health, wellbeing for all individuals from conception through natural death.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

Azar Declared HHS “The Department Of Life”…

He Referenced The Department’s Strategic Plan, Which “For The First Time Ever” Defines Life As Beginning At Conception. “We have in our strategic plan at HHS for the first time ever — it actually declares support for life from the moment of conception up through natural death. Because we are the department of life.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

…Azar Continued To Say That HHS’ Mission Is To Protect The Health Of All Americans — Despite His Department’s Policies Consistently Devaluing And Endangering The Health Of Women, Low-Income Americans, LGBTQ Folks, And Immigrants.

Azar Said His Department Is Determined To Protect The Health Of All Americans. “We are the department whose mission is about enhancing and protecting the health and wellbeing of all Americans from conception until natural death through all of our programs and whether it’s in biomedical research or our social services program. It’s always standing up for the sanctity of human life and trying to enhance the quality of that life while people are here on this earth.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

Azar Bragged About How His Department Has Worked To Weaken The Title X Family Planning Program… “We have proposed a foundational reform of Title X which is the contraception services program that we have at HHS. We have proposed a system of rules that would bring integrity to the program, ensuring that there has to be a fiscal separation between a Title X grantee and any entity that provides abortion services, so really bringing that fiscal integrity back to ensure that taxpayer money is not being used directly or indirectly to fund abortion.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

  • …Including HHS’ Moves To Make It Easier For Anti-Contraception, Anti-Abortion Organizations To Receive Family Planning Grants. “We have opened the door to more Title X providers, and we’ve seen faith-based, community-based organizations come in, and I hope more providers will come in and seek to be Title X providers there.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]
  • These Abstinence-Promoting Organizations Are Attempting To Divert Funds From The Already Under Resourced Family Planning Program That Is Designed To Serve Low-Income Women. “So-called crisis pregnancy centers, which offer limited services such as pregnancy testing, ultrasounds and certain supports for women with unplanned pregnancies, have been increasing in number for several years… Now, some are trying to become anti-abortion, abstinence-promoting alternatives to Planned Parenthood clinics [and]… are increasingly vying for the same federal funds that go to Planned Parenthood, signaling a major change in federal policy being pushed by the Trump administration. This new front in the abortion wars comes as conservatives have largely given up on completely defunding Planned Parenthood, so they’re trying to use the rules to their advantage, pushing for faith-driven women’s clinics to apply for those same federal funds to push an anti-abortion agenda.” [Politico, 12/14/18]

Azar Has Enabled Discrimination Against LGBTQ And Non-Christian Foster/Adoptive Parents. “The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will allow a ministry in South Carolina that only works with heterosexual Christian families to participate in a federally funded foster care program. That means Miracle Hill Ministries can receive federal funding to participate in the program while not working with non-Christians, or those who identify as LGBT.” [The Hill, 1/23/19]

  • His Agency Used Religious Freedom To Defend HHS’ January 2019 Anti-Semitic, Anti-LGBTQ+ Rule. “‘Our federal agency should not – and, under the laws adopted by Congress, cannot – drive faith-motivated foster care providers out of the business of serving children without a compelling government interest, especially now that child welfare systems are stretched thin as a result of the opioid epidemic,’ said Lynn Johnson, HHS's assistant secretary for children and families. ‘The government should not be in the business of forcing foster care providers to close their doors because of their faith.  Religious freedom is a fundamental human right.’” [The Hill, 1/23/19]

Azar Spoke Proudly Of HHS’ Office Of Global Affairs’ Work To Impinge On Women’s Reproductive Rights Globally.

He Mentioned Policies Such As The Mexico City Policy, Or The Global Gag Rule. “We’ve of course been internationally fighting to ensure that globally and internationally, global health organizations do not declare abortion to be a fundamental right, which would have incredible consequences globally, so the United States has been a strong advocate, and of course we’ve been working with the Secretary of State on the implementation and expansion of the Mexico City policy under this administration.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19] 

Azar Lauded HHS’ Work To Roll Back The ACA’s Birth Control Mandate Through Religious And Moral Exemptions That A Federal Judge Blocked In January 2019.

Azar Said They Would “Keep Fighting For That Rule, In Spite Of The Courts” To Ensure That People Don’t Have To “Sacrifice Conscience.” “Of course there’s what we’re doing on conscience to protect people’s right to conscience. Because while health care — access to health care is important, there’s no… one doesn’t have to sacrifice health care and access to health care doesn’t have to sacrifice conscience and respect for people’s conscience to ensure that people have access to health care. So we put out a conscience regulation saying that while the Affordable Care Act does require access to contraceptive services, that those employers who have a religious or moral objection to the provision of contraceptive services, do not have to do so, and of course there are many forms of contraceptives that many would believe are abortifacients, um, and this gives them the right as a matter of conscience to pull out of that, and we’re going to keep fighting for that rule, in spite of the courts.” [Alex Azar remarks at Family Research Council, 1/18/19]

  • A Federal Judge Blocked The Trump Administration Rules That Would Allow Employers To Deny Women Birth Control Coverage Just Before The Rules Went Into Effect. “A federal judge on Monday put a nationwide hold on Trump administration rules that allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control. U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia agreed with a lawsuit originally filed by Pennsylvania, citing the potential harm to states should the rules be enforced. Numerous citizens could lose contraceptive coverage, Beetlestone wrote, resulting in the increased use of state-funded contraceptive services, as well as increased costs to state services from unintended pregnancies.” [Washington Post, 1/14/19]

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