Trump's HHS Says Life Begins at Conception in Draft of 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

Pro-life activists / Getty
October 18, 2017

The Department of Health and Human Services defines life as beginning at conception in a draft of its new strategic plan, which would run from 2018 to 2022.

"HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception," the department says in the introduction of its draft plan.

The Obama administration had similar language in its HHS strategic plan, but did not include the "beginning at conception" phrase, the Hill reported. The change is a sign of the Trump administration's pro-life stance.

There are multiple instances in the document where the Trump administration indicates an anti-abortion view.

"While we may refer to the people we serve as beneficiaries, enrollees, patients, or consumers, our ultimate goal is to improve health care outcomes for all people, including the unborn, across health care settings," the strategic plan states in the section "Strategic Goal 1: Reform, Strengthen, and Modernize the Nation's Health Care."

Another example is in the section "Strategic Goal 3: Strengthen the Economic and Social Well-Being of Americans Across the Lifespan," where HHS says it serves all Americans "from conception to natural death," possibly taking a stance against assisted suicide.

"A core component of the HHS mission is our dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death, but especially those individuals and populations facing or at high risk for economic and social well-being challenges, through effective human services," the document states.

HHS publishes a strategic plan every four years and will be accepting public comments on the current draft until Oct. 27.

Republican Rep. Trent Franks (Ariz.), co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, praised HHS for defining life as beginning at conception.

"It is vital our government's definitions of terms correspond to reality," Franks said in a statement. "Therefore, I applaud the Trump Health and Human Services' new strategic plan that defines life as beginning at conception, which any average high school biology student knows to be true."

"The role of government is to protect innocent human life in that human course," he added. "HHS's inclusion of the correct definition of life pursues that noble goal."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) also praised the department's language, tweeting his support for the changes.