The Department of Health and Human Services’s published a new strategic plan. The health department publishes a strategic plan every four years. This one, that defines life as beginning at conception 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,” reads the draft plan, according to The Hill.

Conservatives, as well as pro-life organizations, have welcomed the change as a much-needed corrective to Obama-era policies. However, women’s health and pro-choice advocates think this could be a harbinger of future federal efforts to restrict access to medical services such as contraceptives and abortion.

The mission of the new plan of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to improve the health and well-being of Americans. This is planned to be done by providing for effective health and human services. Also, by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying public health, medicines and social services.

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This is a major shift from the Obama administration, which had similar language in its HHS strategic plan. Except, it did not include the “beginning at conception” phrase. For comparison, the strategic plan for the previous 5 years began: “HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving Americans at every stage of life.”

Obviously, this change fits the anti-abortion stance of the Trump administration.

A number of anti-abortion groups such as the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) have relied on the “scientific” claim that human life begins “at the moment of conception”. This was a way to justify equating abortion with murder and seeking its prohibition.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a pro-life advocate who co-sponsored legislation in 2005  proposed that “human life” should be defined to “encompass all stages of life, including but not limited to the moment of fertilization or cloning”. Price later resigned due to accusations that he had misused public resources.

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The department will accept public comments on the draft plan until Oct. 27.

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