In the first week of Trump’s presidency, it has been difficult to celebrate the 44th anniversary of the landmark US Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade. This ruling held that women have the right to abortion without undue burden from state and federal restrictions. However, proposed laws and signed executive orders during the last few days have bolstered the age-long, ongoing challenge to the definition of “undue burden.”
A few days before Trump’s inauguration, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) introduced H.R. 586 titled “Sanctity of Human Life.” If the name wasn’t already alarming, the first sentence should definitely ring some bells: “To provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization.” Not only does language like this infringe on the rights of a woman to abort an unwanted or life-threatening pregnancy, it also questions our country’s so-called freedom of religion. Not all religions (atheism can be considered a religious belief, mind you) include this sentiment. Many women would be in danger of losing their right to make decisions about their own bodies in accordance to their own religious values.
Making a Monday even worse, President Trump reinstated the Reagan-era global gag rule on abortion services. The gag freezes federal funding (U.S.A.I.D. and U.S. State Department) from international organizations that provide any type of abortion service, including counseling, resource sharing, and information about abortion. Even if the organization uses a different funding source for their abortion-related services, they will be disqualified from receiving any federal aid from the US. No matter how many awesome family planning and sexual health services these organizations provide (often to low-income women and families in developing nations), if they include anything abortion-related, they will not receive our support.
In fact, not only did Trump reinstate this gag, he has also expanded it. Now the ban not only applies to U.S.A.I.D. and U.S. State Department funding, it also includes global aid from all U.S. governmental departments and agencies. George W. Bush did something similar, but made an exception for programs that involved H.I.V./AIDS research, prevention, and care. Trump, however, did not include this exemption. So basically, this will possibly fuck with a lot of important health-related initiatives we’re involved in—and you know, peoples’ well-being and stuff.
The gag has flip-flopped between Demo presidents rescinding it to protect the rights of actual living women and Republicans reinstating it under a pro-life agenda. Even though, studies have shown that criminalizing abortion does not actually decrease rates of abortions. In fact, women continue to get (illegal) abortions, which are often incredibly dangerous and fatal. But I guess it’s okay that the fetus dies, as long as its sinful harlot of a mother is also getting what she deserves (excruciatingly painful injuries and/or death).
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed HR7, a bill that would make the Hyde Amendment a permanent law, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion. The Hyde Amendment primarily effects people on Medicaid or ACA, however, HR7 takes one step further by including a penalty for private insurance companies and small businesses that offer coverage for abortions, as well as women for using such coverage.
Oh, but at least HR7 is looking out for rape victims who may not want to carry their rapist’s fetus, right? Well, considering that most rape victims don’t get recognition of their assaults by the criminal justice system, this little caveat isn’t quite the compromise we’re looking for. Not that women should even be forced by the government to make compromises over our own bodies, IMHO.
And while most of this article has focused on reproductive rights, let’s not forget about the other rights Trump’s administration is attempting to take away from femme folk (and all Americans): our right to access accurate scientific information, our constitutional right to press freedom, our constitutional right to vote, and the basic human rights of immigrants and refugees.
Check back regularly for more Trump administration recaps and personal thoughts from a fellow feminist. Or, for a more neutral, informative replay of events, check out his helpful public online document that is updated daily.