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Diane Foley, HHS

Diane Foley

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Population Affairs

Deborah Diane ("Diane") Foley is a pediatrician from Colorado who spent the past 13 years working for anti-abortion organization Life Network, which operates two anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and runs a pro-abstinence education program for teens. Before that, she was the Executive Director of Education for a Lifetime (a division of Life Network), a program that purports to “equip middle and high school students with medically sound training on the benefits of avoiding sexual activity outside of marriage.”

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

On May 29, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Diane Foley, MD as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Population Affairs (OPA). In her role at HHS, Foley oversees the Title X family planning program, meaning that she has the final say over which health care providers get the program’s funds for birth control. In spring 2019, Secretary Azar announced a reorganization merging the Office of Adolescent Health — along with the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program and other adolescent health activities that it currently administers — into OPA, and requiring career staff overseeing Title X and teen pregnancy prevention programs in regional offices to report to Foley. This move gives Foley even more control over abortion and birth control policies. The Trump administration is doing everything possible to make it harder to get birth control through the Title X program, from loosening funding requirements to proposing a rule that won’t allow recipients of program funds to talk about abortion. Foley facilitates those program changes.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

President/CEO of Life Network, 2012 – 2017

Executive Director/Physician of Life Network’s SRA education program, Education for Lifetime, 2004 – 2012

Founder/Medical Director of Northpoint Pediatrics; Pediatric Clinical Instructor for pediatric and family practice residency programs at Indiana University School of Medicine, 1987 – 2004

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

Valerie Huber:

Abstinence advocate Valerie Huber is the senior policy advisor to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, and held Foley’s job previously. Foley will likely work closely with Huber, who already has a track record of tearing down reproductive health programs at HHS.

HIGHLIGHTS

Foley Has Said Demonstrating How To Use Condoms For Sex-Ed Students Can Be Considered “Sexual Harassing”:

In her role as Executive Director/Physician of Education for a Lifetime, which delivers abstinence-only education to Colorado students and was partially funded by George W. Bush era grants, Foley said it could be considered “sexually harassing” to demonstrate condom use to a class with a banana. [Colorado Springs Independent, 6/8/10; Splinter News, 5/31/18]

Foley Has Falsely Claimed That Abortion Causes Lasting Mental Health Issues:

In a September 2016 Life Network presentation at Charis Bible College, she said, “There is actually a true, emotional diagnosis that is now starting to be recognized—even though if you look at national media and secular media, they still try to ignore the fact—but there is actually a diagnosis called post-abortion stress and also post-abortion traumatic syndrome, that is a result directly of someone having an abortion or being involved with an abortion that happens,” she said. “Here is the thing that is incredible to me. I am a trained physician, went through training, got not one single lecture throughout the course of my training about this situation.” [VICE, 6/5/18]

Foley Has Compared Abortion To Slavery And The Holocaust:

In a September 2016 Life Network presentation at Charis Bible College, she said, “People who are very adamant about abortion will say, ‘this is an issue of women’s rights.’ It’s which life has more value,” Foley said. “That sounds a lot like what our nation went through in the 1800s, right? When somebody decided somebody’s life wasn’t worth living or they weren’t [worth] quite as much—they were worth what, three-fifths of a human? Is that right? What about what was happening in Europe during the World Wars, where there [were] groups of people that were determined they weren’t worth as much?” [VICE, 6/5/18]

THE WHOLE STORY

Diane Foley Is An Anti-Abortion Zealot Who Uses Her Medical Degree As A Cover To Make Claims About Abortion Without Any Evidence

Foley Peddled The Debunked “Post-Abortion Traumatic Syndrome” Theory, Claiming That Abortions Make Women Become “Cold And Unapproachable” And Develop “Eating Disorders”…

Foley Asserted That “Post-Abortion Stress” And “Post-Abortion Traumatic Syndrome” Are “True, Emotional Diagnos[e]s.” Foley: “There is actually a true, emotional diagnosis that is now starting to be recognized—even though if you look at national media and secular media, they still try to ignore the fact—but there is actually a diagnosis called post-abortion stress and also post-abortion traumatic syndrome, that is a result directly of someone having an abortion or being involved with an abortion that happens, … here is the thing that is incredible to me. I am a trained physician, went through training, got not one single lecture throughout the course of my training about this situation.” [Diane Foley, Charis Bible College, 9/15/16]

Foley Argued That There Is An Association Between Abortion And “Eating Disorders,” “Depression, Anxiety” And “Relationship Difficulty.” [Diane Foley, Charis Bible College, 9/15/16]

Foley Said That Many Women Who Have Abortions “Become Very Cold and Unapproachable Emotionally.” Foley argued that many women who receive abortions “find a need because of the pain to deny what happened and they shut down their emotions and become very cold and unapproachable emotionally and have a lot of difficulty then reacting and responding to other people in a normal way.” [Diane Foley, Charis Bible College, 9/15/16]

…Yet, There Is Little Support For So-Called “Abortion-As-Trauma”

According To A 2010 Study Published In Social Science And Medicine, Researchers “Found Little Support For The Abortion-as-Trauma Framework.” “Because of the potential for confounding, published research claiming to find relations between abortion and poor mental health indicators should be subjected to scrutiny and reanalysis. Using the same data and conducting the same analyses as CCSR (2009), we found that their results were not replicable, nor did our numbers approach theirs in the case of 15 mental health disorders. Moreover, we found little support for the abortion-as-trauma framework. Instead, our findings suggest that structural, psychological, and sociodemographic risk factors associated with both having an abortion and having poor mental health drive a relationship between abortion and mental health. Therefore, policy, practice, and research should focus on addressing the correlates of having mental health problems, such as violence and prior mental health problems.” [Social Science and Medicine, Vol.72, No. 1, pp. 72-82, 10/23/10]

A 2018 American Medical Association Study Showed “No Evidence” That “Abortion Causes Depression. “Abortions don’t cause depression…researchers reported Wednesday. The study is the latest to show no evidence that abortion causes depression. Policies that cite damage to mental health as a reason to restrict access to abortion are not based in fact, the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry. “The repercussions of abortion for mental health have been used to justify state policies that limit access to abortion in the United States,” the team, led by Dr. Julia Steinberg of the Department of Family Science at the University of Maryland, wrote…Some anti-abortion-rights groups claim that psychiatrists have a diagnosis called ‘post-abortion syndrome’ or ‘post-abortion stress syndrome’, although no such diagnosis exists in medical texts.” [NBC News, 5/30/18]

Foley Lied About Abortion Safety, Stating That The Procedure Puts Women At Risk…

Foley: “The Way Abortions Are Done, There Is Not Enough Supervision or Regulation for Them And It Puts Women at Risk. There Are Not the Same Standards as Other Surgical Centers.” “‘I have very strong feelings that an infant is another life and that the choice occurred before the pregnancy,’ Foley said. ‘And at that point there's another life that their choice needs to be important too.’ When it comes to state and federal legislation, Foley said she would like to see further restrictions on abortion. ‘The way abortions are done, there is not enough supervision or regulation for them and it puts women at risk. There are not the same standards as other surgical centers, there are not the same requirements in terms of having the same hospital privileges in case something goes wrong,’ she said.” [Vice News, 2/29/16]

…However, Time And Again, Abortions In The United States Have Been Proven Safe

According To A 2018 Study, “Abortions That Are Provided In The United States Are Safe And Effective.” “Abortions in the United States are safe and have few complications, according to a landmark new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report, called "The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States," examined the four major methods used for abortions — medication, aspiration, dilation and evacuation, and induction — and examined women's care from before they had the procedure through their follow-up care. ‘I would say the main takeaway is that abortions that are provided in the United States are safe and effective,’ says Ned Calonge, the co-chair of the committee that wrote the study. He is an associate professor of family medicine and epidemiology at the University of Colorado and CEO of The Colorado Trust.” [NPR, 3/16/18]

Foley, Like Another Trump Health Department Appointee, Compared Abortion To The Holocaust. She Also Compared Abortion To Slavery

Foley Compared Abortion To Both Slavery And The Holocaust. “People who are very adamant about abortion will say, ‘this is an issue of women’s rights.’ It’s which life has more value…that sounds a lot like what our nation went through in the 1800s, right? When somebody decided somebody’s life wasn’t worth living or they weren’t quite as much – they were worth what, three-fifths of a human? Is that right? What about what was happening in Europe during the World Wars, where there were groups of people that were determined they weren’t worth as much?” [Tonic, 4/5/18]

  • Trump Health Appointee Scott Lloyd Also Compared Abortion To The Holocaust. “Lloyd had written that while he knew some found comparisons to the Holocaust “distasteful,” for him, the “similarities have been crystal clear” since the day he and the woman argued about the abortion.” [Mother Jones, 8/22/18]

Foley Has Extreme, Out Of Touch Views On Sex and Sex Education, Favoring Abstinence-Only Before Marriage

Foley Compared Sex To “Super Gluing Your Fingers Together” And Compared Banana Condom Demonstration To Sexual Harassment

Foley Said She Believed It Could Be Considered “Sexually Harassing” To Demonstrate Condom Use To A Class With A Banana. “Speaking in her office, above one of the Life Network pregnancy centers where pregnant women are given ultrasounds and discouraged from getting abortions, Foley argues it's difficult even to teach condom use, requiring 13 separate steps. ‘By the time you get to step six, you forget why you are even using the condom,’ she jokes. (Planned Parenthood, incidentally, has a 10-step video on its Web site, which includes steps such as "Don't tear the condom while unwrapping it.") Foley says she believes it could be considered "sexually harassing" to demonstrate condom use to a class with, say, a banana. [Colorado Springs Independent, 4/8/10]

Foley Compared Sex To “Super Gluing Your Fingers Together.” Foley: “So to help them understand that when God said that ‘the two shall become one flesh’ his idea was the limbic system was to protect that emotional relationship for husband and wife for life. The sexual relationship is the closest you can get physically, have you ever superglued your fingers together? It’s not a good time, I have, it’s really hard to come apart but that’s basically what happens.” [Diane Foley, WVC Student Ministries, 4/29/12, 54:00]

Foley Advocated For Fear-Based Sex-Ed Tactics

Foley Advocated For “Fear-Based” Sex Education. FOLEY: “There is a lot of social pressure to not teach kids from fear. You know when you’re talking about sex the big thing is ‘well you’re just scaring them,’ well you know my answer to that is ‘explain to me when you bring a smashed car and set it in front of my high school for a week, is that not fear-based against drunk driving? Why can’t I do the same thing for sex?” [Diane Foley, 2013, WVC Student Ministries, 4/29/12, 13:00]