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Just A Few Federal Level Attacks On Reproductive Rights & Education Since Trump Took Office

Because reproductive rights help people with a wide scope of family planning queries and health concerns, reproductive rights range from access to comprehensive and complete sex education, family planning, contraceptive methods, and abortion. According to the National Organization for Women (NOW), reproductive rights legislature has transformed dramatically in the last several decades. Rooted in Rights notes that less than 100 years ago, in 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court voted that involuntary sterilization was constitutional, which subsequently promoted systemic eugenics. While the Supreme Court has since redacted its stance on Buck v. Bell as well as many other problematic reproductive legislative moves, the Trump administration has had a questionable stance on reproductive rights and reproductive education.

On Friday, the Trump administration voted to reenact a Reagan-era reproductive education rule, which would prohibit federally funded medical clinics from mentioning abortion. Dubbed the “domestic gag rule" (as it's the U.S. based version of the more international Mexico City Policy announced this time last year) this new legislature could also ban any federally funded clinics from sharing the same office space as providers that offer abortion services, The Guardian reports.

While a law that bans federally funded facilities from saying the word abortion, or even referring patients to doctors terminate pregnancies, this policy isn’t the first time the Trump administration has tried to muffle transparent reproductive rights and education—actually the list of attacks on reproductive rights is a bit lengthy, but here are just a few:

1. The administration attempted to cut funding to teen pregnancy prevention programs

Though U.S. sex education varies between states and individual schools, Teen Vogue reports that the Trump administration tried to cut approximately 200 million dollars of funding from Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP).

Although Teen Vogue notes that a federal judge implemented a permanent injunction that halted the admin’s attempt to defend the program, this reduced grant would have slashed multiple necessary sex education resources. The admin attempted to slash TPP’s assets would have burdened the organization’s parent-centered sex education courses, STI testing clinics, research projects, and sex education initiatives.  

2. The admin has tried to defund Planned Parenthood on numerous occasions

Planned Parenthood can be misconstrued as a sole provider for abortion services; however, the organization offers a myriad of reproductive and family planning services. The average PP facility offers cancer screenings, STD testing, LGBTQIA+ health care, birth control, and more.

Prior to the gag rule—which, if enacted, would either redact PP’s federal funding or prohibit the organization from offering abortion services—the Trump administration initiated one of its first attacks on the organization’s abortion services in April 2017. (Never mind the fact that Planned Parenthood does not allocate any federal funds to abortion services.)

In the wake of the admin’s attempts to squander PP’s federal allowance, specific states have also attempted to defund the health organization. According to Rewire.News, the attorney general in Ohio appealed the Sixth Circuit Court in an attempt to redact federal funding for the Planned Parenthood locations in the state.

Nevertheless, Planned Parent like-minded organizations aren’t sitting idly by, and in fact they’re taking legal actions against several newly proposed reproductive laws. After the Trump administration started contemplating the gag rule, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Bustle notes that the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) and a free Planned Parenthood affiliates issues lawsuits regarding the administration’s Title X funding guidance.  

3. The administration tried to implement abstinence-only sex education curriculums

Long-term studies have found that there is a strong correlation between abstinence-driven sex education programs and higher pregnancy rates in teens. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) started promoting abstinence-focused sex education curriculums at schools, according to The Hill.

The plan to incorporate abstinence-driven models in schools come after similarly counterproductive contraceptive lessons. The Quartz reports that on March 2018, HHS Office of Population Affairs announced that family planning education should include a rhythm-based contraceptive option (i.e., tracking your menstrual cycle and hoping you aren’t ovulating).

4. The admin’s short-term healthcare plans threatened maternity coverage

During the Trump administration’s conception of short-term insurance options, apparently, there aren’t many short-term healthcare options for expectant mothers.

After the conception of insurance options that rival Obamacare options, the Trump administration started working on short-term insurance options back in April 2018. While these health insurance plans are only available to citizens during limited periods of time, Vox reports that these options might not cater to maternity care.

In fact, less than 30 percent of these short term healthcare options only cover maternity care.

5. Employers can restrict your contraceptive options in their healthcare plans

Coined as a “moral exemption and accommodation” rule, the Department of Health and Human Services made is possible for employers to restrict and prohibit birth control options within their employees’ healthcare plans. Effective as of Oct. 6, 2017, this legislature allows organizations to execute their “religious or moral objections” to contraceptive options, according to NBC News.

Planned Parenthood reports that birth control pills can cost an individual between 15 to 50 dollars every month, and that’s with healthcare insurance. While birth control pills might still be affordable to some people (if their employers refuse to pay for these reproductive options), Hello Flo notes that other birth control options can get increasingly expensive without health insurance, with an uninsured IUD racking up as much as 800+ dollars.

Birth control options, whether the method is pills, implant, IUD, or shot, can help chronic ailments. From oral contraceptives to skin patches, Healthline notes that there are several birth control options that can effectively treat PCOS and its related symptoms.

Granted, birth control options can treat a slew of other medical diagnoses (i.e., endometriosis and cramps). Plus, certain contraceptive pills can actively prevent ovarian cancer in some patients, as well as pelvic inflammatory disease. However, people shouldn’t need a medical diagnosis to convince their employer to include birth control in the company’s health insurance package. No person should need to validate to their employers their need for coverage or treatment, especially since health insurance is increasingly expensive and, at times, impossible to afford outside of an employee’s company.

6. The State Department removed reproductive rights from the human rights report

In the U.S. Department of State’s most recent annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the U.S. did not include reporting on reproductive rights, according to The Washington Post. Other than the lack of data on reproductive rights and family planning from 2017, this missing data is troubling, as reproductive rights are a detrimental pillar of human rights.
 

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Center for Reproductive Rights indicates that reproductive rights and comprehensive reproductive and family planning education are considered human rights. Though the omission of this information isn’t necessarily considered a violation on reproductive rights (and thus human rights), some recent activity in the Trump administration could constitute as an infraction on these rights.

The Hill notes that President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order stating that taxpayer-funded organizations can utilize their “religious freedom” to discriminate against members of the LGBTQIA+ community refuse service to anyone who contradicts their moral or religious beliefs. Shortly after Trump inked his signature on the order, Oklahoma and Kansas enacted bills that would allow adoption agencies to express their “religious freedom” to reject any adoption applications from same-sex couples, Mic adds.

Disregarding the paradox that this religious freedom impedes another group of individuals chance to adopt, this new “anti-LGBT adoption bill” could restrict members’ of the LGBTQIA+ freedom to reproductive rights.

In 1994, the UN’s International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) noted that international reproductive rights include (but are not limited to), “the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.”

Although the adoption itself is not explicitly a part of the aforementioned family planning rights, the right to apply to adoption (thus, the right to the means to plan a family) is a reproductive right and therefore a basic human right.

As the Trump administration's record in the reproductive health space has been consistently disheartening from day one, activists are obviously concerned (and rightfully so) that the impending domestic gag rule could pave the way for additional threats on reproductive rights.

For more about what college women really think about reproductive rights, check out Our Bodies, Our Rules.