Women’s Reproductive Rights Under Trump

 

President Trump intends to implement a variety of changes that largely impact issues surrounding reproductive rights, according to PBS’s article. While our mission is to keep moving forward and progress—not regress—with women’s reproductive rights, it's important to understand how exactly we got to where we are, starting with Roe v. Wade.

 

One of the hallmark Supreme Court cases for the feminist movement, Roe v. Wade changed the way abortion existed in the United States. After it passed in 1973, the right to an abortion existed unrestricted through the first trimester; states were allowed to impose certain restrictions entering the second and third trimesters. Skip forward 45 years, and the battle for women’s reproductive rights rages on. Since Roe v. Wade, there was the Hyde Amendment of 1976, prohibiting abortions to be funded federally and the gag rule implemented by Clinton in 1992, preventing abortions to be presented as an option by medical professionals. The gag rule was removed in 1993, but its existence serves as a marker of opposition.  

Women’s reproductive rights, while notably focused on abortion, also includes contraception, protection from forced sterilization, and maternal health. Many issues around women’s health are assisted by proper sexual education programs in schools. Additionally, maintaining protections around women’s reproductive rights at a federal level makes it easier to keep them affordable. Under President Barack Obama, women’s health was listed under the focus for promotion and protections of human rights. In April of 2018 when the U.S. Department released its document on human rights, women’s health was cut from the protections list.

 

President Trump’s intended changes include forbidding federally funded health clinics from referring patients for an abortion and allowing employers who cite religious or moral reasons to “opt out of no-cost birth control for women workers” according to PBS’s article. He has intentions of promoting abstinence-only sex education and interfering with aspects of Title X, including banning federally funded medical clinics from sharing space with abortion clinics. These things impact the spectrum of women’s health and health care, from ineffective sexual education that can lead to unintended pregnancies and the spread of STDs to extremely risky “options” for women who need or want an abortion. It also presents itself as a large obstacle in realistic and sustainable family planning. As explained in The Denver Post article, “Title X serves about 4 million low-income people.” To interfere with it in such a drastic way further compromises the health and security of individuals who struggle to afford their basic means.

 

Trump’s involvement might lead one to believe that there was a crisis that needed addressing, except that abortion and unintended pregnancy rates are at an all-time low. As Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services explains in PBS’s article, this would be a different situation were those numbers skyrocketing. But because it’s not what could even be described as a crisis, there isn’t a need to interfere. In attempting to fix something that isn’t broken, President Trump is breaking it. Unfortunately, his interference with sex education, abortion laws, and women’s health is not consequence-free; those who already struggle financially or undergo specific hardships that hinder their ability to live a financially-secure life tend to get the short end of things.

 

This is an intersectional issue, as individuals from various racial, ethnic, sexual, and class backgrounds are all at risk of enduring hardship. There may not be a clear solution to women’s health care and reproductive rights, but there is an obvious problem. Just ask the millions of people who will suffer from the changes in Title X, the teenage mothers who couldn’t safely obtain an abortion, or the many babies given up for adoption because the youth weren’t educated on contraception or sexual activity.