Who is closing abortion clinics? Not Charmaine Yoest, anymore. She appears to be long gone as president of Americans United for Life, the group that drafted the blueprint legislation for Texas’s abortion-closing law, HB2. Yoest left with no fanfare, and there was no express acknowledgement of her departure — a few articles added “former” before “President of Americans United for Life” when they quoted her, and that was it. The organization quietly adjusted its email blast signatures to denote Clarke Forsythe, Senior Counsel, as interim president of the organization.
Let’s recap: A pro-life group disappears their female president, doesn’t acknowledge anything about her service to the organization, and replaces her with a white man.
This seems par for the course for the notoriously sexist pro-life movement.
Americans United for Life was touting Yoest’s contributions, namely their 2016 Playbook, as recently as August 15 in Breitbart News, although the article itself did not mention Yoest and included a quote from Forsythe instead.
Yoest has made no note of this departure herself, and on the right-wing show “Dennis Michael Lynch: Unfiltered” she’s simply been referred to as a former Reagan advisor. Is the quietness of this schism due to latent discord? Or is it just because Americans United for Life doesn’t want to recognize the efforts of the woman who steered them in their current direction? Perhaps replacing a widely recognized woman in their movement with a man isn’t providing the optics they know they need.
Meanwhile, interim president Forsythe has been putting out statements about how the 5-3 decision in favor of abortion clinics in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is dangerous to women’s health. He even said “women lost” in the decision overturning HB2. What, exactly, would a cisgender man know about this? Why does Americans United for Life think that their new male president, representing an organization with a board on which seven out of 10 members are men, is the right person to talk about how women feel about this decision?
In addition, Forsythe has now called for a very ‘Big Brother’ national law to collect data from abortion providers… despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control has already been collecting data since 1969. Pro-life pushes to collect abortion-related data, in the hopes that they will reveal anything to support pro-life rhetoric have historically proven the opposite. A recent law in Arizona, modeled off the AUL’s template reporting legislation, showed that that between 2011 and 2014 less than one percent of abortions in the state had complications. Thanks, fellas, for proving what we’ve been saying this whole time.
In another weird moment, Americans United for Life also released a video commemorating their anniversary on August 16, celebrating 45 years of restricting people’s access to abortion care. In the video, Forsythe notes the “diversity” of the original board of directors. Unless he’s referring to the diversity of haircuts and suits (which is still lacking), it’s hard to see what he means:
Forsythe says, “Americans United for Life was founded in 1971, before Roe v. Wade, by a diverse group of people from different religious faiths, different backgrounds, different races, different professional disciplines who all wanted to come together in unity in support of the sanctity of human life.” Well, that’s a doozy.
Despite the inappropriateness of Forsythe talking about things he’s not qualified to discuss, and supporting laws that invade the privacy of women and their doctors, we do have to be appreciative of Americans United for Life’s decisions here. They’ve given us yet another perfect example (and a video, to boot) to point out just just how pale, male, and stale the pro-life movement really is.