HHS Official Boasts Of ‘Pro-Life Team Across The Spectrum’ As Abortion-Rights Opponents Celebrate Wins Under Trump

Former Family Research Council Chief of Staff Shannon Royce, Director of the HHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

At the Evangelicals for Life conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Travis Wussow of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission asked a panel to talk about wins for abortion-rights opponents in President Trump’s first year.

Focus on the Family’s Vice President for External Relations Tim Goeglein said the biggest win was the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, whose swearing-in Goeglein attended. Goeglein also celebrated the number of Trump-nominated judges who have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. There has never been, he said, “in the history of the presidency,” another year in which a president had 12 judges confirmed to the appeals courts. (The Senate Judiciary Committee this week continued its rush to approve even the most extreme and dangerously unqualified Trump nominees.) The confirmation of so many “pro-life” judges “less than a year into the Trump-Pence presidency,” he said, will make an “enormous” impact in the short, medium and long term.

Charles Camosy, an associate professor at Fordham University, celebrated the movement’s state-level wins, calling Ohio “a tremendous example”:

Ohio banned abortion after 20 weeks. Ohio banned abortion in the case where there was a Down Syndrome finding. And I think just last week I saw that their Senate passed a bill that will require pre-natal children to be buried the same as other kinds of children. We hope that passes as well.

Panel moderator Wussow congratulated Shannon Royce, director of the Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships at HHS, which Wussow called “a true bright spot in this administration when it comes to protection of life and protection of conscience,” saying “it’s no exaggeration to say you guys have just had a monster year over at HHS.”

Royce, who was chief of staff at the Family Research Council before joining the administration, emphasized one axiom of politics, “personnel is policy,” saying “we have such an amazing team at HHS, that is absolutely a pro-life team across the spectrum, and that is playing out in many ways.”

She touted the new HHS division on “conscience and religious freedom,” which is focused on protecting health care workers who refuse to provide care that conflicts with their religious beliefs. And she talked about getting a life-begins-at-conception affirmation into the department’s strategic plan:

Another thing that happened that went under the radar, I think, for our friends to some extent, but the opposition really threw fits about it so you know it’s a big deal, is that in our strategic plan we actually affirmed life from conception to natural death, and that too is very significant.

Royce promised “exciting things in coming days” that she said she couldn’t talk about just yet.

Geoglein declared himself optimistic. He touted Focus on the Family’s program to donate or help purchase ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers, which he said have prevented more than 400,000 abortions and helped turn the tide in public opinion, especially among the younger generation. “We are winning,” he said. “It’s now fashionable to be pro-life.” We are drawing closer, he said, to the day when “Providence will clear His throat and Roe will be tossed on the ash-heap of history.”