The Department in Charge of the Nation's Health Care Says Life Begins at Conception

Pro-abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion advocates rally outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. The new HHS strategy defines life at the time of conception. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft of its new strategic plan that defines life as beginning at conception.

"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 plan reads.

Conception as the start of life is mentioned again in the third goal of the blueprint. "A core component of the HHS mission is our dedication to serve all Americans from conception to natural death," the document states.

The department publishes a new plan every four years, according to an article in The Hill; HHS's current strategic plan will run from 2018 to 2022.

This is a change from the Obama administration. The draft, whose language is almost identical to that of the Obama-era strategy, has simply added the "beginning at conception" phrase. The current HHS strategic plan goes on to say that "HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving Americans at every stage of life."

It goes along with the Trump administration's anti-abortion rights stance, however.

In 2016, then-Republican candidate Donald Trump wrote a letter in which he promised to nominate a "pro-life" justice to the Supreme Court and sign a 20-week abortion ban into law—and he fulfilled both of these promises. He pledged to defund Planned Parenthood —but hasn't been able to do so—and vowed to make sure tax dollars aren't being spent on abortions.

This issue has, for a long time, been wildly controversial, even to the president himself.

In 1999, Trump said he was "very pro-choice" in an interview with Meet the Press.

The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2017

And just last year, when asked about his stance on abortion during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, Trump didn't seem sure which side he aligned with.

"Let me ask you about a few social issues because they haven't been issues you have been talking about for several years. I know you're opposed to abortion," Tapper stated.

"Right. I'm pro-choice," Trump said.

"You're pro-choice or pro-life?" Tapper said.

"I'm pro-life. I'm sorry," Trump said.

While he may have flip-flopped on the issue before, if this strategy draft gets accepted and goes into effect, it will cement his anti-abortion rights position. Meanwhile, the department is accepting public comments on the draft until October 27.