Health
Health

HHS Document Implies Life Begins At Conception

| by Jordan Smith

New language in a document released by the Department of Health and Human Services is causing concern among pro-abortion rights activists.

Jezebel reported on Oct. 10 that HHS updated the wording in its strategic plan document for 2018 to 2022.

"HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving Americans at every stage of life," a sentence from the HHS strategic plan prepared under the Obama administration stated, according to Jezebel.

But the current draft changed this slightly.

"HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception," the updated version declared.

The point is emphasized again in one of the department's goals, which reads: "A core component of the HHS mission is our dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death."

The document also will take steps to increase funding for faith-based organizations, noting that HHS will "reduce burdens on the exercise of religious and moral convictions."

Medical professionals have tended to avoid stating when life begins.

"There's a reason that we don't provide a definition of when life begins because there isn't such a definition in medicine," Dr. Anne Davis from Physicians for Reproductive Health told HuffPost. "It's not a medical concept."

"The confusion here is that people think that the moment of fertilization is when pregnancy starts," added Davis. "They conflate those two things as one … which isn't true. Fertilizations occur many more times than pregnancies occur, because they often don’t wind up in pregnancies. Fertilization happens in the [Fallopian] tube. Pregnancy happens in the uterus."

HuffPost noted that the strategic plan's reference to life beginning at conception reflects the Trump administration's opposition to abortion rights. The White House welcomed the passage by the House in early October of a bill that would ban abortions in the U.S. after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"The administration strongly supports H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections," a White House statement declared, according to CNN.

Some of Trump's top officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, are open advocates of anti-abortion legislation, which has already been adopted in several states.

However, the House bill will struggle to pass the Senate.

"That's not a near-term priority," Sen. John Cornyn, the Republican whip, said when asked if the Senate would soon discuss the measure.

HHS' draft strategic plan is open for public consultation until Oct. 27.

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