New watchdog group targets Trump HHS on reproductive health

New watchdog group targets Trump HHS on reproductive health
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A new watchdog group focused on reproductive health care is taking on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Mary Alice Carter, the executive director of Equity Forward, which officially launched Friday, said the nonpartisan group will hold accountable organizations and individuals they argue limit access to reproductive health care.

Its first project, HHS watch, will include a full audit of decisionmakers at the agency, digging into their positions and backgrounds and monitoring their actions.

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“Americans deserve to know when their government is hiring people with backgrounds antithetical to the mission of the offices in which they serve,” Carter said.

“The reason we exist is because there hasn’t been an organization like this up until now, and there are ways that organizations, entities and individuals have been able to act without full transparency.”

Equity Forward takes issue with political appointees at HHS that have worked for anti-abortion groups or have made critical comments in the past about some types of contraception.

“Instead of hiring qualified public health professionals, the administration has put anti-contraception political activists in charge of four million women’s birth control access,” Carter said.

Carter, who previously worked for Planned Parenthood, said the group plans to file a large volume of Freedom of Information Act requests “in order to understand what’s going on behind the scenes.”

“And we are more than willing to follow that up with legal action,” she said.

Equity Forward is particularly concerned about the future of the Title X program, a federally funded family planning program long criticized by conservatives.

The Trump administration is expected to make changes to the program, which could involve adding restrictions for clinics that provide abortions.

The group also takes issue with an HHS policy that blocks immigrant minors in the care of the government from getting abortions.

The launch comes as Alex Azar is poised to become the next HHS secretary, following the resignation of Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWhite House officials discussing potential replacements for FEMA chief: report Overnight Health Care: CBO finds bill delaying parts of ObamaCare costs B | Drug CEO defends 400 percent price hike | HHS declares health emergency ahead of hurricane HHS should look into Azar's close ties to the drug industry MORE last year.