Reflections: Biden and Trump's Histories with Women

With the 2020 Presidential General Election quickly approaching this November, the topics regarding women’s health are essential issues to keep in mind. Now that the candidates for both the Democrat and Republican parties have been narrowed down, it is time to direct attention to candidates former Vice-President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump’s histories regarding these issues. 

  1. 1. Sexual Misconduct

    This is the most important part to both candidates' narratives in regard to their histories with women. Allegations of sexual misconduct have been tied to both candidates' reputations for decades, yet are still important factors for who to cast your vote for in November. 

    A former Biden staffer, Tara Reade, came forward with allegations this past March that she was sexually assaulted by the former Vice President Biden twenty-six years ago. Additionally, several women came forward in 2019 claiming Biden had made them uncomfortable by kissing or touching them without their consent. While these stories have not been verified, they nevertheless carry significant weight and impact Biden’s history with women. 

    Similarly, President Trump has undergone dozens of serious sexual assault and harassment claims dating back to before his presidency. According to Business Insider, since the 1970s, at least twenty-five women have accused him of sexual misconduct. These accusations were highlighted most prominently during the #MeToo movement, prompting a national conversation concerning sexual misconduct. Additionally, the statements by President Trump when denying these allegations carry weight because of his derogatory, misogynistic rhetoric. Broadly dismissing the allegations as politically motivated, he has claimed he did not sexually assault his accusers because they were not attractive enough. 

  2. 2. Abortion and Women’s Healthcare Funding

    For the last several decades, Biden has gone back and forth over his views on abortion. One of the most significant changes to Biden’s opinions happened last June when he changed views on the Hyde Amendment. This amendment prohibits the use of federal funding for most abortion cases and has been around since the 1970’s. Biden has said he supports the decision of Roe v. Wade (1972), however, is less supportive of other abortion measures because of his Catholic faith. Biden’s position changed regarding the Hyde Amendment in response to the wave of various state legislation in 2019 to restrict abortion at the state level. 

    Since 2016, the Trump administration has been openly dedicated to curbing health-care providers that perform abortions, and Planned Parenthood has historically been their biggest target. Most recently, the administration moved forward with new rules changing Title X funding that would barr recipients of money from the federal family-planning program, from making referrals for abortions. Under the new rule, Title X recipients are no longer allowed to provide women with information about where and how they can get an abortion, and they cannot encourage women to seek out the procedure. Therefore, in practice, this became a type of “gag rule” on abortion procedures.

  3. 3. Gender Representation 

    One of the best ways for a president to expand diversity within the White House is through the power of appointment. However, President Trump has named twice as many men as women to appointed positions according to an Atlantic analysis. This being said, Gina Haspel was named the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency under the Trump Administration. While strides are being made, the overwhelmingly male administration sheds light on the President’s stance on representation. No department is outweighed in number by women, and in some cases, men outnumber women four or five to one. While the Republican Party has argued that the president has appointed more women to senior-level positions in history, the true numbers give way to the fact that the White House has the most male-dominated staff since the Reagan administration in the 1980s. So, as women are still a minority in the Trump White House, large parts of the glass ceiling remain unbroken in regard to representation. 

    Unlike President Trump, former vice president Joe Biden committed to picking a woman as his vice presidential candidate in a Democratic Debate. These commitments are still conditional as time will tell, however they represent Biden’s commitment to the larger goal of representation in governmental positions. According to Keneshia Grant, a political science professor at Howard University, these commitments are a good thing in order to win the support of more black voters. While some people believe Biden’s statement is nothing more than pandering. In any case, if Biden delivers on this it will mean a woman on the ticket in November.

Ultimately, this information is meant to be informative about the variety of topics related to women’s health and guide your decisions in the upcoming election. We hope this was helpful for you and we encourage you to continue to do your own research about all candidates in the 2020 Election.