At the National Women’s Health Network, we are deeply concerned about the state of science under the Trump-Pence administration. Respect for science and scientists at federal agencies has dangerously eroded over the last 21 months. By repeatedly hiding, mischaracterizing, and ignoring scientific data in the rule making process, the administration has threatened public health and well being.
That’s why we were proud to join a diverse group of environmental, public health, and government transparency organizations in releasing a report outlining what policymakers can do to restore scientific integrity in the executive branch.
The Trump-Pence administration has repeatedly ignored or misrepresented research to reach conclusions that best suit their political agenda rather than prioritizing health. This has taken many forms, from appointing officials in the Department of Health and Human Services who publicly state that contraception doesn’t work to prioritizing natural family planning and abstinence-only programs for funding.
One prime example of their approach to ideology over science for women’s health is included in the report: the administration’s irresponsible attack on the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of insurance coverage for birth control. In regulations issued October 2017, the administration carved out exemptions for employers who object to birth control coverage on religious or moral grounds. They cherry-picked evidence to defend their position and falsely asserted that certain types of FDA-approved contraceptive methods induce abortion. In our public comments fighting the rule, we noted that the administration was understating the efficacy and health benefits of contraceptives and overstating the health risks of contraceptives by selectively interpreting data, overlooking well-established evidence, and promoting unfounded doubt.
As the rest of the report makes clear, the administration has repeatedly cut itself off from scientific evidence and expert advice across the board, gutting federal agencies’ ability to ensure healthy families, clean air and water, and safe workplaces. The report prescribes actions for Congress to restore scientific integrity in the policy and regulatory process. Together, we call for Congress to reveal the abuses of scientific integrity, hold appointees accountable, and pass protective laws. Read the full report here.
Tessa Ruff is the NWHN Policy Fellow.