Diane Foley, a Christian anti-choice activist who believes monogamy is scientifically correct, is now in charge of Title X funding, which administers federal grants for family planning services. Foley, recently named to oversee the Office of Population affairs, has shown to be particularly adept at rewriting mission statements to divert federal money into religious organizations that just barely maintain the separation of church and state.
It’s possible you don’t know any of this, since the announcement of Dr. Foley’s move, made rather quietly a week after the Trump administration proposed a domestic gag rule for abortion providers, was buried in an unassuming release about some reshuffling at the department of Health and Human Services this Tuesday:
In the announcement, Foley is praised for her “long and distinguished career working in health care”—which is certainly one way to describe a lifetime of looking down on welfare recipients and enforcing abstinence in God’s name, all while maintaining government funding.
As the non-profit reproductive rights publication Rewire.News notes, Foley once served as the CEO and president of the Life Network, a Christian organization that “promotes life-affirming alternatives to abortion” and operates two crisis pregnancy centers staffed almost entirely by “patient advocates” in the state of Colorado. These Colorado clinics don’t actually offer prenatal care—but they do allow women who carry to term to earn “baby bucks” through the completion of “mentoring” classes offered within the center.
Those bucks can then be redeemed, during the first two years of a child’s life, to purchase staples like children’s clothing. The logic here, according to an interview Foley did with Vice News in 2016, is that nothing should come free, not even for women who have recently fulfilled the ultimate biological imperative, per God’s will.
“We feel very strongly that we shouldn’t give things away, because when you have to work for something it gives you a sense of self efficacy,” Foley told Vice.
Thanks to the good journalists over at Colorado’s independent newspaper, the Colorado Springs Independent, we also know that when Foley’s phone rings—perhaps with an offer to preside over the federal government’s only program for low-income women’s reproductive health—its ringback tone blasts Christian rock.
As the Independent reported in a cover story in 2010, Foley presided over the Life Network’s “Education for a Lifetime” program, an abstinence-only sex education program for schools partially funded by George W. Bush-era grant programs. Though EFL included three days of something called “soul-mate training” and Foley considered teaching teenagers to put on condoms either too complicated (with 13 whole steps) or a form of education that could be considered “sexually harassing” (the condom-on-a-banana thing was too risque) she was careful to maintain the program’s completely secular status.
Apparently this was done by tweaking website copy:
Diane Foley, EFL’s executive director and a physician, is up-front about funding sources. Everything at Life Network, she says, is carefully compartmentalized to keep from using federal money for a religious activity. So while Life Network’s Web site promotes its mission as a “sanctity of human life ministry that impacts and transforms people with the love of Christ,” EFL’s Web site and course materials avoid any overtly religious content.
But to work or volunteer for EFL, as for the rest of the Life Network, you need a reference letter from your pastor and must sign a statement of Christian faith. And Foley makes no secret of her personal faith and values: Callers to her private cell phone get blasted with Christian rock, and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson’s book about raising boys sits on her bookshelf.
Still, she insists it’s science rather than religion that shows “the benefits of marriage for all people.”
In February, the Trump administration proposed new rules for Title X funding, which, as Jezebel’s Stassa Edwards wrote, would make it far easier for crisis pregnancy centers and other faith organizations to get those federal dollars, “while simultaneously erecting more barriers for organizations like Planned Parenthood.”