Trump administration releases draft of HHS plan declaring life begins at conception

(Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)A pro-life campaigner holds up a model of a 12-week-old embryo during a protest outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast October 18, 2012.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under the administration of President Donald Trump, has released a draft of a new strategic plan that declares in its introduction that human life begins at conception.

"The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to enhance the health and well-being of Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services," the introduction states, as reported by Christian News Network.

Immediately after the opening paragraph, the draft stressed the agency's commitment to providing care for all Americans, including the unborn.

"HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception," it added.

The draft's language immediately drew criticism from pro-choice bloggers, including OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, who said that the references to life beginning at conception was unscientific.

"It's concerning because HHS isn't just a theoretical group that writes think pieces no one reads. We are replacing science with beliefs," she stated in an interview with Think Progress.

The proposed HHS plan for 2018-2022 has been seen by some as a major shift from the HHS policy under the administration of President Barack Obama.

The previous strategic plan mentions "life span," "every stage of life," and "between life and death," but it makes no mention of caring for the unborn or life beginning at conception.

The draft, which is open for public comment through Oct. 27, mentions life beginning at conception in two other instances, and it also stresses the agency's commitment to caring for children who are not yet born.

The language in the new plan is what pro-life proponents had hoped to see after several pro-life advocates were appointed to the HHS, including Teresa Manning and Charmaine Yoest.

Manning had previously worked for the National Right to Life Committee while Yeost had previously served as the president of Americans United for Life.

The Trump administration has also been making other pro-life policy changes, including a new refugee resettlement program that requires taxpayer-funded shelters to offer life-affirming support to women and girls who are pregnant.

During his first week in office, Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits the U.S. government from sending taxpayer money to groups that promote or perform abortions overseas.

His administration has also cut several million dollars in taxpayer-funded sex education grants to Planned Parenthood, and it also discontinued taxpayer-funded grants to the abortion chain for helping people sign up for Obamacare.

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