Appointment of Religious Right Propagandist to Office of Population Affairs Condemned by CFI


For Immediate Release: May 31, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

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The Trump administration has made a grievous mistake in the appointment of a religious ideologue and propagandist to lead a key agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the Center for Inquiry of the selection of Diane Foley to oversee the Office of Population Affairs (OPA), which focuses on reproductive health and family planning.

Foley previously led the anti-abortion Life Network organization, which promotes wholly disproven abstinence-only “sexual risk avoidance programming” and operates two Christian “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are deceptive religious-right fronts that impose religious propaganda on pregnant women who seek advice about their reproductive care options.

“There is no constituency whose lot is improved by lying to high school students about the benefits of contraception in reducing unwanted pregnancy and in facilitating healthy choices about family planning,” said Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “Vulnerable young families are the ones who will pay the price.”

“This appointment is part of the Trump administration’s effort to replace evidence-based health care and sex education with extremist religious ideology on a national scale,” said Lemieux.

Foley was quietly appointed to the position on Tuesday, which was only announced by HHS in a tweet. The announcement came on the same day a federal court in Washington state ruled that HHS had acted illegally in ending funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which uses evidence-based sex education to reduce teen pregnancy. Last week, HHS announced their intention to impose a “domestic gag rule” banning federal funds for any health organization that provides a referral to an abortion provider.

“Instead of yet another ideologue in the thrall of religious dogma, the Office of Population Affairs should be led by someone who is committed to evidence-based policy that helps Americans make the best choices for their health and their families,” said Lemieux

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.