Anti-abortion activist abruptly departs HHS post

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Rumors began circulating on Saturday afternoon that Teresa Manning, the anti-abortion activist President Donald Trump appointed to lead the Health and Human Services Department’s family planning programs, was reportedly escorted from the building Friday. According to a department spokeswoman, she resigned.

Manning, who served as deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs, has spent much of her career fighting abortion and has publicly questioned the efficacy of several popular contraception methods, according to a report published in The Washington Post on Saturday.

Her duties at HHS included overseeing the Title X program, which provides family-planning funding for about 4 million poor Americans or those without health insurance. Back in April, Trump signed a bill cancelling an Obama-era rule that required state and local governments to provide federal funds to all qualified health providers.

Under the Obama rule, funds were provided for birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, fertility, prenatal care and cancer screening. Funds were not available for abortions; however states could not withhold funds from providers that offered them. By signing the new bill, President Trump returned power to the states, allowing them to withhold funding from healthcare providers who perform abortions, if they so choose.

In an email Friday evening, HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley confirmed Manning’s resignation, saying only, “HHS would like to thank her for her service to this Administration and the American people.”

Manning was escorted from the building by security officials, according to an anonymous HHS official who spoke to Post reporters. The official noted that Manning already had turned in her badge and the escort allowed her to get back out through security.

Valerie Huber, a prominent abstinence education advocate, has been named acting deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs. Huber served as chief of staff in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health since June.

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