Opinion: A Disturbing Trend Against Women’s Health

Source: Roll Call

Despite the fact that most Americans want their leaders focused on creating jobs and boosting the economy, in his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump has spent significant time and effort attacking women’s access to critical health care services and it is clear that women should expect even more harmful policies in the future.

On January 23, 2017, just two days after millions across the country and the world came together for the historic Women’s March, President Trump signed an executive order taking away rights from millions of women. He reinstated and expanded the global gag rule, a policy that bars both foreign nongovernmental and multilateral organizations from receiving U.S. family planning funds if — with other, non-U.S. funds — they provide abortion counseling, referrals, or even advocacy efforts.

These groups are denied freedom of speech to lobby on either side of abortion laws — even if it is only done with non-U.S. funds.

Although the president reinstated this rule to limit abortions, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that abortion rates actually increase in countries with “high exposure” to this policy compared to those with “low exposure” and that the use of modern contraceptives declined over the same period. If the president really wants to decrease the number of abortions, as he says he does, we need to be increasing the access to contraception, not reducing it.

On January 31, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, clearly with an eye to one day overturning Roe v. Wade, even though polls like one by Quinnipiac University from January have consistently shown that about 70 percent of voters agree with the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision.

As a U.S. circuit court judge, Gorsuch joined four other justices on the Hobby Lobby case ruling in favor of the religious beliefs of corporate owners over the rights of their female employees to have comprehensive health care. As we know, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court agreed with Judge Gorsuch.

This month, on April 14, President Trump signed a bill allowing states to withhold federal funds for family planning services from organizations that provide abortion services with private money. Just four days later, on April 19, the Iowa House approved a bill that will block state funding from going to Planned Parenthood even though a February poll by The Des Moines Register showed that 77 percent of adults support continued public funding for Planned Parenthood for health services that do not include abortion.

And while all of this was happening, President Trump has been doing everything he can to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which dramatically expanded women’s access to critical health services, including contraception, maternity care, and screening for breast and cervical cancer, and perhaps most importantly, prohibits insurance companies from charging women more for coverage simply because they are women. Fortunately, the president has not been successful so far, but he is not done trying, despite the fact that a majority of the public approves of the ACA.

A clear and disturbing pattern has emerged from this president’s first 100 days — an ideologically driven tyranny of the minority. This administration is pursuing an agenda that is both unrepresentative of the views of the majority of Americans and harmful to women in the U.S. and around the world. It is producing policies that are both unsafe and unsound.

It is time for the president to try a little harder to live up to his grand campaign promise to be the best president for women and respect the views of the majority of Americans.