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The Heritage Foundation’s Health Department: How an Increasingly Radical Right Wing Think Tank Is Controlling HHS — to the Detriment of Reproductive Health and Other Human Rights

Molly Bangs, Research Associate | Reports

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Executive Summary

The Heritage Foundation brands itself as a think tank of establishment conservatives; as policy experts in the fields of economics and national security who align with the traditional Republican Party. This branding is a façade, as Heritage regularly spouts hateful ideas that are detrimental to LGBTQ individuals, women, people of color and low-income workers. 

Scrutiny of The Heritage Foundation’s glossed-over extremism is needed now more than ever: while the think tank has enjoyed considerable respect in Washington, D.C. political circles and influenced conservative administrations for decades, its impact on the White House has grown under the Trump administration. Heritage has established a direct pipeline of Heritage alumni working within the administration; symbiotic policy has materialized, as well. 

Heritage’s influence on the executive branch in particular is epitomized by Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This report spotlights the extremist policy positions Heritage holds, its influence over HHS, and, importantly, how this influence is detrimental to Americans’ reproductive rights, human rights and access to health care. It looks at how closely HHS policy mirrors Heritage policy recommendations and the impact that influence has in the following areas: “conscience protection” and access to quality health care; birth control; LGBTQ discrimination; lifesaving research that uses fetal tissue; and the family separation crisis and abortion rights of migrant teens in government care.

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