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Anna Pilato

Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs, Administration for Children and Families

Anna Pilato has extensive experience in conservative, anti-abortion politics, having worked in the administrations of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and President George W. Bush. As director of Bush’s the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, she helped develop the “conscience rule” that expanded protections for health care providers who refuse to perform services because of religious or moral objections. She’s also worked for the Fairfax, Virginia Republican Committee.

Immediately before joining the Trump administration, Pilato was employed at the anti-abortion extremist organization Concerned Women for America. She began her career at far right-wing televangelist for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

The Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs oversees the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Office of Communications and Office of Regional Operations. The Office of Communications is responsible for media relations and relaying information about ACF’s family planning and reproductive health programs, policies and initiatives to the public. The Office of Regional Operations oversees the ten regional ACF offices that work directly with state and local entities served and affected by the agency’s programs and policies.

As the individual in charge of the Office of Communications, Anna Pilato is in a position to influence the timing, volume and accuracy of information released to the media and the public, thereby shaping perceptions and knowledge of ACF’s work. Responsible for ACF’s regional offices, Pilato is able to influence how the agency’s family planning and reproductive health programs, policies and initiatives are implemented throughout the United States.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

Finance support at Concerned Women for America, 2016

Deputy Secretary at the Kansas Department for Children and Families, 2011-2015

Strategist; recruiting and coalitions committee member at the Fairfax Republican Committee, 2009-2011

Director of HHS Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, 2007-2009

Human resources generalist and recruiter at the Christian Broadcasting Network, 1997-2001

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

Christian Broadcasting Network:

Pilato began her career in the Christian Broadcasting Network’s human resources department. CBN was founded by anti-abortion televangelist Pat Robertson. Robertson has long been known for his extremist views:

  • Anti-Abortion: “Abortion is terribly wrong. God condemned the Israelites who were offering their children as sacrifices to the heathen god Molech. Such children were burned up in the fires of sacrifice [see Leviticus 20:2]. But we are offering our children to a god of pleasure and sensuality and convenience. By doing so we are saying that human beings are not worth anything. This is a terrible sin and a blot on our society.”

  • Anti-LGBTQ: “I don't really believe homosexuals want to get marriage, what they want to do is destroy marriage and some of the other things we have in our society.”

  • Anti-Feminist: “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Sam Brownback:

Pilato spent more than four years working in the Kansas Department for Children and Families while Brownback was governor of the state. As governor of Kansas, Brownback signed at least 19 pieces of anti-abortion legislation. As Brownback’s administration was ending, he wrote a letter urging President Trump and congressional leaders to use Kansas’s anti-abortion laws as a model for federal legislation: “With the new administration in Washington and both houses of Congress controlled by pro-life majorities, we must grasp the opportunity to proclaim and protect the dignity of life,” he wrote. Trump later appointed Brownback head of the Office of International Religious Freedom.

HIGHLIGHTS

As The Bush Administration’s Director Of HHS’s Center For Faith-Based And Community Initiatives, Pilato Helped Sanction Discrimination Against Patients Pilato “Worked On Policy Reform Advocating For Health Care Provider Conscience Rule And Hiring Rights Of Federally Funded Faith-based Groups In Conjunction With The Department Of Justice And The White House.” [Anna Pilato resume/American Oversight, accessed 10/24/18]

THE WHOLE STORY

Immediately Before Joining The Trump Administration, Anna Pilato Worked For The Anti-Abortion Organization Concerned Women For America

Pilato Worked In The Finance Department Of The Anti-Abortion, Anti-LGBTQ Organization Concerned Women For America

Pilato “Provided Support And Accuracy In Various Aspects Of Finance Department” At Concerned Women For America. [Anna Pilato resume/American Oversight, accessed 10/24/2018]

Concerned Women For America Advocates For “Public Awareness Of The Harm Of Abortion” And “The Promotion Of Pregnancy Care Centers.” “We are concerned about: 1. The protection of innocent human life—including protecting the unborn from abortion, fetal tissue experimentation, and embryonic research; and society from euthanasia, cloning, population control and human genetic engineering. 2. The physical, emotional and spiritual harm to women, men and their families resulting from abortion…We are working to see: 1. Laws passed to protect our society from practices and policies that endanger or debase innocent human life. 2. Public awareness of the harm of abortion to women, men and their families; and the promotion of pregnancy care centers and post-abortion counseling services.” [Concerned Women For America, accessed 10/24/2018]

  • Concerned Women For America Propagates The False Theory That Abortion Is Linked To Breast Cancer. “Women seeking information on abortion should hear about all the risks it presents. They have the right to know an abortion will increase their risk of breast cancer—compared to the level of protection they receive if they carry the baby to term. As CWA continues to fight abortion-on-demand laws, we encourage you to act on this information! Write your elected officials about the evidence linking abortion and breast cancer. Tell them you want laws passed to inform women of the dangers associated with abortion, including the higher risk of breast cancer.” [Concerned Women For America, accessed 10/24/2018]

Concerned Women For America’s “Freedom Of Conscience” Talking Points Claim That There Is A “Totalitarian Effort To Purge The Medical Community Of Those Who Value Life.” “Freedom of Conscience is Fundamental to American Values… Doctors should not be forced to do procedures they believe are immoral. This totalitarian effort to purge the medical community of those who value life will corrupt the medical profession…Forcing doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to violate their conscience will push qualified, ethical people out of the profession, worsening the crisis of fewer health care workers in an already diminishing field. Clinics and hospitals could be shut down for refusing to offer abortions.” [Concerned Women For America, accessed 10/24/2018]

Concerned Women For America Opposes Hate Crime Laws That Protect LGBTQ People. “’Hate crimes’ creates special classes of victims based solely upon their ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity.’ Victims who engage in homosexual, transgender, fetish, or other sexual behaviors would get preferential treatment over victims who are grandmothers, veterans or children. In other countries, it has led to punishing people for their Biblical views on sexuality.” [Concerned Women For America, accessed 10/24/2018]

Pilato Helped Develop The Bush Administration’s “Conscience Rule”

Pilato Helped Develop Regulations That Expanded Protections For Healthcare Providers Who Refuse To Provide Services Because Of Religious Or Moral Objections

As The Bush Administration’s Director Of HHS’s Center For Faith-Based And Community Initiatives, Pilato “Worked On Policy Reform Advocating For Health Care Provider Conscience Rule And Hiring Rights Of Federally Funded Faith-based Groups In Conjunction With The Department Of Justice And The White House.” [Anna Pilato resume/American Oversight, accessed 10/24/18]

Issued In The Final Days Of The Bush Administration, The Conscience Rule Contained “New Protections For Healthcare Providers Who Oppose Abortion And Other Medical Procedures.” “The Bush administration, as expected, announced new protections on Thursday for health care providers who oppose abortion and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds. ‘Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,’ Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement on his department’s Web site. The rule prohibits recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and health care aides who refuse to take part in procedures because of their convictions, and it bars hospitals, clinics, doctors’ office and pharmacies from forcing their employees to assist in programs and activities financed by the department. ‘This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience,’ Mr. Leavitt said…The measures announced on Thursday, sometimes described collectively as the ‘conscience rule,’ were issued just in time to take effect before the start of the new administration. They will go into effect 30 days after their publication in the Federal Register on Friday. Recipients of funds from the Department of Health and Human Services are required to certify their compliance with the rule by October 2009.” [New York Times, 12/18/2008]

  • The Conscience Rule “Led Pharmacists To Refuse To Fill Prescriptions For The Emergency Contraceptive Plan B, Doctors In California To Reject A Lesbian's Request For Infertility Treatment, And An Ambulance Driver In Chicago To Turn Away A Woman Who Needed Transportation For An Abortion”; It Was Eventually Rescinded For Being “Over Broad” And “Unclear.” “After two years of struggling to balance the rights of patients against the beliefs of health-care workers, the Obama administration on Friday finally rescinded most of a federal regulation designed to protect those who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. The decision guts one of President George W. Bush's most controversial legacies: a rule that was widely interpreted as shielding workers who refuse to participate in a range of medical services, such as providing birth control pills, caring for gay men with AIDS and performing in-vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women. Friday's move was seen as an important step in countering that trend, which in recent years had led pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, doctors in California to reject a lesbian's request for infertility treatment, and an ambulance driver in Chicago to turn away a woman who needed transportation for an abortion…The new rule leaves intact only long-standing ‘conscience’ protections for doctors and nurses who do not want to perform abortions or sterilizations. It also retains the process for allowing health workers whose rights are violated to file complaints. Calling the Bush-era rule ‘unclear and potentially overbroad in scope,’ the new, much narrower version eliminates language that had triggered alarm among reproductive health advocates, women's groups, stem cell scientists and proponents of honoring end-life-life wishes of terminally ill patients.” [Washington Post, 2/18/2011]

Pilato Worked On Faith-Based Initiatives In The Administration Of Vehemently Anti-Abortion Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

Pilato Served Under Governor Sam Brownback As The Kansas Department Of Children And Families’ Deputy Secretary For Strategic Development And Faith-Based Community Initiatives

Pilato Served As The Kansas Department Of Children And Families’ Deputy Secretary For Strategic Development And Faith-Based Community Initiatives. “Both sides agreed [SRS Secretary Robert] Siedlecki created new positions in the SRS hierarchy, including the hiring of Anna Pilato as deputy secretary for strategic development and faith-based and community initiatives at a salary of $97,500.” [Topeka Capital-Journal, 6/26/2011]

  • As He Was Creating Pilato’s Faith-Based Initiatives Role, The Secretary Of The Kansas Department Of Children And Families Met With Far Right-Wing Groups To Discuss Faith-Based Issues. “In April, [SRS Secretary Robert] Siedlecki met behind closed doors with approximately 20 representatives of groups, many of them faith-based, that shared ideas on preserving marriages and lowering divorce rates. Siedlecki, a divorced father of two, has frequently spoken about the need to preserve families. But some of those within that group that met with Siedlecki included controversial figures who have urged that poor women marry as a way to get out of poverty, that states repeal no-fault divorce and that polygamy was more in line with common values than same-sex marriage. Recently, SRS applied for a $6.6 million grant to pay for either faith-based or secular counseling that encouraged unwed parents to marry. Under the proposal, if the couple completed counseling, the state would pay the $86.50 marriage license fee. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rejected the grant.” [Lawrence Journal-World, 10/23/2011]

During Pilato’s Tenure, The Department Proposed A Contract Saying That Sexual And Domestic Abuse Victims Should Receive Abstinence-Based Education. “A proposed state contract for helping low-income abused women has drawn widespread criticism because of fear that it would require domestic violence programs to promote two-parent families. The controversial language could end up pushing more women to stay in abusive relationships, having the unintended consequence of endangering them and their children, critics say. The same contract - which also would provide services to sex-assault victims - calls for abstinence-based programs. Critics say it would be insulting to tell a woman who has been raped that abstinence is part of the solution. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which is handling the proposed contract, said the language supports goals of a federal program and is not meant to steer women into staying with abusers, that its intent is to encourage healthy relationships that prevent violence. The concern stems from new language the state has inserted in a proposed contract for providing services to low-income victims of domestic and sexual violence who receive cash assistance from the state. The controversial terms include specifications encouraging a vendor to work with faith-based groups, to promote ‘unification’ or ‘formation’ of two-parent families and to pursue abstinence-based pregnancy prevention.” [Wichita Eagle, 1/14/2012]

During Brownback’s Tenure As Governor, Kansas “Enacted Some Of The Most Stringent Abortion Restrictions In The Nation”

Brownback Signed 19 Anti-Abortion Laws As Governor Of Kansas, Leaving The State With “Some Of The Most Stringent Abortion Restrictions In The Nation.” “‘The dignity of life and inherent right to life is shared by all people, all people, both born and unborn,’ Brownback said. ‘The complexity surrounding countless crisis pregnancies are many and varied. Too often women are led to believe that abortion is their only option when it clearly is not.’ Brownback said the measure was the 19th ‘pro-life’ bill he has signed as governor. ‘I don’t know anybody in the country that has that kind of privilege that I have of being able to do that,’ he said…Kansas has enacted some of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the nation. Among other measures, it allows insurance policies for state employees to cover abortions only in cases where the life of the mother is endangered; requires parental consent for minors seeking abortions; requires women to undergo ultrasounds and be given the option of viewing the image before obtaining an abortion; and bars abortions after 20 weeks unless the life of the mother is endangered or her health severely compromised. In 2015, the state banned ‘dilation and evacuation’ abortions, the most common second-trimester procedure. The law was challenged by two Overland Park abortion providers and in January 2016 the Kansas Court of Appeals, in a 7-7 decision, blocked it, finding that the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights provides a right to abortion. The state has since appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, which is expected to hand down its decision soon.” [KCUR, 6/7/2018]