Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D. is President & CEO of Americans United for Life (AUL), the legal architects of the pro-life movement. AUL’s legal strategists have been involved in every life-related case before the United States Supreme Court beginning with Roe v. Wade. AUL is the pioneer of the state-based model legislative strategy, which has increased exponentially with significant victories in the past few years. AUL’s legal strategy works both to save the lives of the unborn, while also confronting the so-called “reliance” interest adopted by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey: the false idea that women “rely” on abortion to succeed in American society.

Under Dr. Yoest’s leadership, AUL has pursued and refined a unique mother-child strategy that looks at the interests and vulnerabilities of both, protecting them from abortion industry abuses. According to the New York Times, “Taken together, these new state laws are hugely effective…” With such a track record, the Christian Science Monitor observed that some abortion advocates consider her “Public Enemy Number One” … but with a style all her own.

“This mother of five…has set the stage for sweeping antiabortion victories at the state level on the strength of her seeming candor, warmth, and camera-ready smile,” noted CSM, calling her “pro-life’s kinder, gentler face” and that “she represents the changing face of the antiabortion movement.”

Similarly, a profile piece featured in the New York Times magazine, described a “deft reframing of the abortion debate that has put Yoest at the center of anti-abortion politics and enabled her to help push through the greatest number of abortion restrictions since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.”

Her approach is exemplified in AUL’s Women’s Protection Project, a cutting-edge package of legislation, found in AUL’s Defending Life, known as the legislative “playbook” for office holders. This followed up Dr. Yoest’s coordination of AUL’s explosive exposé in July 2011, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” which documents known and alleged abuses occurring behind the closed doors of the nation’s largest abortion provider, an effort that resulted in a Congressional investigation.

Dr. Yoest was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Dr. Yoest has also provided Congressional testimony on other occasions before both the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as before state legislative bodies.

Dr. Yoest began her career in the White House during the Reagan Administration and served as a Senior Advisor to the 2008 Huckabee for President Campaign, after leading as Vice President of Communications at Family Research Council, one of the largest pro-family public policy organizations in the country. While there she edited and co-authored FRC’s “Free to be Family” report, a compendium detailing data on family breakdown.

On announcing her appointment, Governor Huckabee observed that Dr. Yoest “brings with her an in-depth knowledge of the issues and policy expertise, as well as over two decades of experience in the conservative movement.”

A regular political commentator, Dr. Yoest has appeared on all of the major networks and cable outlets. She is also the co-author of Mother in the Middle, an examination of childcare policy, published by HarperCollins, and is currently working on a second book related to modern feminism, with the working title, Women Alone.

Previously, Dr. Yoest served as the Project Director of the Family, Gender and Tenure Project at the University of Virginia, a nationwide study funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She was also a recipient of Mellon, Olin, Bradley, and Kohler Fellowships.

Dr. Yoest has a Ph.D. in Politics from the University of Virginia. She and her husband, Jack, live with their five children in the Washington, DC area.

Charmaine writes at her blog, CharmaineYoest.com.

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What People Are Saying About Charmaine Yoest

World MagazineFor abortion foes, the state victories are a balm after a long period of frustration. “In eight years of Bush, we saw almost no movement,” one anti-abortion organizer told me. But now? “The way we’re gathering momentum is just amazing,” says Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life. Her group offers state lawmakers 32 pieces of model legislation, and its approach is to chip away at the protections of Roe v. Wade rather than challenge it outright. Taken together, these new state laws are hugely effective — incrementalism on steroids.
New York TimesDr. Charmaine Yoest is president and CEO of Americans United for Life (AUL), mother of five, and “public enemy #1″ to many in the pro-abortion community.
Christian Science MonitorAbortion opponents have a new voice -In the often heated debate over abortion, a less confrontational, more pragmatic force is behind a record number of antiabortion laws and pro-choice’s ‘bad year.’... This mother of five – who is not a physician, attorney, or lawmaker – has set the stage for sweeping antiabortion victories at the state level on the strength of her seeming candor, warmth, and camera-ready smile... But beside the undeniable political advantage, there’s something else afoot, something Yoest embodies. She represents the changing face of the antiabortion movement. No longer are ideologically driven men necessarily the dominant spokesmen.
Washington PostBut there’s another woman who deserves equal credit: Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest. It’s her group that issued a report last fall, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” that led to a probe by the Energy and Commerce Committee. And it’s that investigation that puts Planned Parenthood in violation of Komen’s new policy that bars funding of groups under investigation. Yoest has run Americans United for Life for three years. She came to the group from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign, and before that, served as the Family Research Council’s vice president for communications. She moved to Washington in the 1980s to work in the Reagan administration. But she counts this as perhaps her biggest victory.
New RepublicUnlike most Washington professionals I interview, who generally seem eager to get to their next appointment, Yoest gave the impression that she would happily speak to me for hours. As we talked, our interview felt less like a professional grilling and more like a woman-to-woman discussion about the moral implications of abortion. It reminded me of conversations I’ve shared with friends, late at night, over the question of whether we would ever consider having an abortion. In spite of my pro-choice views, I found myself liking her... But, underneath the recent noise, Yoest and the AUL may quietly be winning. The types of incremental measures the group supports—waiting periods, requiring the doctor to give patients certain information, parental consent—are favored by the majority of Americans. It doesn’t hurt that such stances can often be persuasively sold with moderate-sounding language about empowering women to protect their health.
Mother JonesYoest says her focus is on a “post-Roe nation” in which states will again be the sole arbiters of when, where, and whether women can get abortions. “The real question is what do the states do,” she says. “And so in a sense, we’re leapfrogging over [Roe].” She believes AUL’s growing body of state laws will set precedents with the potential to eventually change federal abortion law. As she explained to National Catholic Register, “We don’t make frontal attacks. Never attack where the enemy is strongest.”... But making abortions all but impossible is only half the battle. Ultimately, AUL would like to see the Supreme Court legally enshrine its restrictions—all in the name of protecting women. “It’s really, really critical that we start establishing this in the legislative record,” Yoest tells me. “Repeatedly, the Supreme Court has turned away from the threat that abortion poses for the baby, because the Supreme Court has said repeatedly they’re concerned about the woman. So we basically want to say to the court, ‘We share your concern for women. You need to look at the fact that abortion itself harms women.’”
National Catholic Register“One of the most exciting things is looking back at where we were in 2008, when there was such desperation in the pro-life movement, and comparing it to now, when we are seeing a tidal wave of pro-life victories,” said Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life. “On the state level,” she said, “we have been able to bring about a number of victories. There was a huge upswing in the number of pro-life representatives at the state level with the mid-term elections in 2010. This didn’t get as much attention as it deserved.”
New York TimesBut religious conservatives and more ardent abortion opponents who have not been included say Mr. Obama is trying to have it both ways. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, an advocacy group, said that if the president really wanted to forge consensus, he would advocate rules allowing parents to be notified if their teenage daughters sought an abortion and banning the procedure known as partial-birth abortion. As an Illinois state senator, Mr. Obama voted “present” on such initiatives, enabling their defeat.

Op-Eds and Other Media:

TIME for Thanks

TIME Magazine
I’m thankful for the unplanned, the unexpected, the discoveries and the revelations that make up an authentic life, as the road taken reveals rich

Charmaine Yoest’s Cheerful War on Abortion

The New York Times
One day in the spring, I went with Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life, a pro-life advocacy group, to

Abortion opponents have a new voice

Christian Science Monitor
With an easy laugh and ample charm, Charmaine Yoest doesn’t at all appear to be Public Enemy No. 1 for the

The Stealth War on Abortion

Rolling Stone
"We don't make frontal attacks," AUL president and CEO Charmaine Yoest told the National Catholic Register in 2011

Meet the woman who got Komen to defund Planned Parenthood

Washington Post
But there’s another woman who deserves equal credit: Americans United for Life

Behind the pro-life victories of 2011

National Catholic Register
With one of the most pro-abortion administrations in the White House, the possibility of mandated coverage for

New report reveals major pro-life gains undermining Roe v. Wade

The Christian Post
Yoest noted that AUL's legislative involvement was also significant. During the 2011

The Saleswoman: One pro-life leader’s savvy strategy

The New Republic
Yoest, who holds a Ph.D. in politics from the University of Virginia, does not seem like a stereotypical conservative

Shifting strategies for state abortion battles in 2014

POLITICO
“This past year was a real watershed moment,” said Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United

Abortion and the health bill

Wall Street Journal
It's now becoming clear that Barack Obama is willing to put everything on the table in order to be the president who passes health-care reform

Charmaine Yoest on abortion

PBS
Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life, talks about how the strategy of the anti-abortion rights movement has changed

Five truths about Planned Parenthood

National Review Online
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, performing (and profiting from) one out of

Charmaine Yoest’s victory for life

The American Spectator
In July, Yoest organized a Capitol Hill press conference where leading pro-life House Republicans -- including

Can Planned Parenthood justify $1 million a day?

Fox News
The current political uproar over an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds reveals an

Nation’s largest abortion provider: Planned Parenthood

The Washington Times
Planned Parenthood has worked hard to keep under wraps the fact that it is increasingly synonymous

Wham, Bam, Sonogram! Meet the Ladies Setting the New Pro-Life Agenda

Mother Jones
"We're having a party," Charmaine Yoest tells me when I arrive for a lunch meeting at

One step at a time

World Magazine
Charmaine Yoest is the president and CEO of Americans United for Life, the legal arm of the pro-life movement. She worked in the

Grist for the grill: To question Sotomayor

Townhall.com
When the Senate Judiciary Committee begins grilling Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor this week
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