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Brett Giroir

Brett Giroir

Assistant Secretary for Health

Brett Paul Giroir worked in health care, academia and the pharmaceutical industry prior to joining HHS.

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Giroir’s role includes oversight of the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) as well as the Office of Adolescent Health, meaning it oversees the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) efforts to fundamentally change the Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs at the behest of anti-abortion advocates. During Giroir’s Senate confirmation process, Sen. Patty Murray said she was “unconvinced Dr. Giroir would be willing to stand up to this administration’s ideological attacks on women.” Politico has since reported that Giroir is leading HHS’s September 2018 shift to limit fetal tissue research, and he has said the agency will likely cancel the research, which is fundamental to discovering lifesaving vaccines and researching cures for diseases including HIV, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

At HHS, Giroir oversees the Trump administration’s efforts to make it harder for low-income women to access birth control and helps limit its efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and conduct research on lifesaving vaccines.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

President and CEO of ViraCyte, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, 2016 – 2018

Executive Vice President and CEO at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, 2013 – 2015

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

Charles Schwertner:

Giroir supports anti-abortion Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner. Girior made a campaign contribution to Schwertner and repeatedly tweeted praise regarding legislative collaborations. Schwertner has a history of anti-abortion ideology and legislation; he was the primary author of the extreme SB-8 bill, which required the burial or cremation of a woman’s embryonic or fetal tissue and banned dilation/evacuation abortions. In February 2017, Schwertner smashed a glass table during a committee hearing to silence a young woman testifying against an anti-abortion bill.

Rick Perry:

In 2009, then-Governor of Texas Rick Perry reportedly influenced the Giroir’s recruiting for a top position in the Texas A&M University System. In 2014, Giroir stood with Perry at a news conference where he publicly asked President Obama to ban air travel from West African countries fighting Ebola outbreaks. Giroir has been an ardent supporter of Perry’s over the years, despite funding conflicts. Perry holds extreme anti-abortion views he has wielded to restrict Texas women’s right to choose; for example, he signed House Bill 2, one of the nation’s strictest abortion-restricting bills, into law in 2013 after Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered it for 11 hours.

HIGHLIGHTS

When Asked In An August 2017 Senate Hearing If He Believed Family Planning Funds Should Be Made Available To All Providers, Giroir Skirted The Question:

In response to Sen. Patty Murray’s prodding, Giroir stated that family planning services are important, but answered, “If there are restrictions that are handed down to me, I am obliged to follow the law.” [Kaiser Health News, 8/10/17]

THE WHOLE STORY

At HHS, Brett Giroir Has Been Leading The Charge To Defund Lifesaving Research for HIV and Other Diseases that Utilizes Fetal Tissue, For Which No Alternatives Exist

In November 2018, OASH Secretary Brett Giroir Sent A Letter For Rep. Mark Meadows, Stating That HHS “Seeks To End The Use Of Fetal Tissue In Taxpayer-Funded Research If It Can Find ‘Adequate Alternatives.’” “Brett Giroir, the HHS assistant secretary of health, sent a letter to GOP Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) — the anti-abortion leader of the Freedom Caucus — describing the agency’s plan to move forward on alternatives to fetal tissue. The National Institutes of Health currently funds more than $100 million in research that draws on fetal tissue.  In the letter, Giroir — one of the top officials involved in the agency’s ongoing review of fetal tissue research — says that HHS is ‘fully committed to prioritizing, expanding, and accelerating efforts to develop and implement the use of these alternatives.’ He also portrays HHS as ‘pro-life and pro-science’ under the Trump administration and says the agency did too little to find alternatives to fetal tissue under previous administrations. Parts of the letter were shared with POLITICO by a source.” [Politico, 11/16/18]

  • Fetal Tissue Research Has Made “Major Contributions” For “Vaccines” And Continues To Be “Necessary For Medical Advances” For The Zika Virus And Other Diseases. “Fetal tissue research has made major contributions to the understanding of biology and the development of new medical technologies, including vaccines that have saved millions of lives. Cells from human fetal tissue were used in the development of several therapeutics in current use, as well as the ongoing production of critical vaccines (Wadman, 2017).... Below, we outline examples of how the use of fetal tissue has led to therapies that have saved lives as well as ways in which fetal tissue research continues to be necessary for medical advances. 1. Parkinson disease 2. Huntington disease 3. Blindness 4. Pregnancy 5. Zika Virus 6. HIV 7. Vaccines 8. Diabetes.” [International Society for Stem Cell Research, 2/17]
  • Scientists Say Fetal Tissue Is Unique And Has No Alternatives. “There are no alternatives that can, today, serve all the same purposes as the controversial technology. ‘The consensus is that there are certain things about fetal tissue that make [it] unique,’ said Paul Knoepfler, a professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine. ‘Certain experiments can really only be done on actual fetal tissue.’” [STAT News, 12/17/18]

As the Assistant Secretary for Health, Giroir has Overseen Changes to Critical Programs at the Behest of Anti-Abortion Activists

OASH Director Brett Giroir Oversaw The Efforts To Change The HHS’ Fetal Tissue Practices, Including An Abrupt Cancellation Of A Longstanding Contract With A Fetal Tissue Provider. “The simmering fight spilled into public view on Monday night, as HHS abruptly terminated one longstanding contract with a fetal tissue provider while opening an audit of all federally funded research and practices related to fetal tissue, which is mostly obtained from abortions.  The health department, which cited ‘the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved’ in using fetal tissue, also pledged to seek alternatives to fetal tissue for research purposes. … However, four individuals say that internal efforts to change the agency’s fetal tissue practices are being led by Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, whose office has overseen a number of changes sought by anti-abortion activists, including controversial changes to the Title X family planning program. Steven Valentine, who serves as Giroir’s chief of staff, also has been a voice representing the interests of anti-abortion advocates.” [Politico, 9/28/18]

  • Giroir Told Congressional Republicans That HHS Would Likely Cancel The Critical Fetal Tissue Contracts Because It Is A “Pro-Life” Agency. “Brett Giroir, the HHS assistant secretary of health, sent a letter to GOP Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) — the anti-abortion leader of the Freedom Caucus — describing the agency's plan to move forward on alternatives to fetal tissue….In the letter, Giroir — one of the top officials involved in the agency's ongoing review of fetal tissue research — says that HHS is “fully committed to prioritizing, expanding, and accelerating efforts to develop and implement the use of these alternatives.” He also portrays HHS as "pro-life and pro-science" under the Trump administration and says the agency did too little to find alternatives to fetal tissue under previous administrations. Parts of the letter were shared with POLITICO by a source.” [Politico, 11/16/18]