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Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. (Photos: Planned Parenthood via Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

6 Ways the Trump Administration and Congress Have Threatened Women’s Health in Just a Few Months

It’s hard to keep up.

Look at how Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and anti-abortion politicians in Washington have systematically targeted women’s health since day one.

It’s hard to keep up with the terrible policies coming out of the White House these days. The Muslim ban. Cutting funds to Meals on Wheels. Reversing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. But the new administration and the new Congress have been particularly cruel in their policies toward women — and it hasn’t even been 100 days.

In addition to all the policies that indirectly hurt women, these 6 things directly attack both reproductive health and rights.


Who’s Impacted

Where it Is

Expanding the Global Gag Rule

Forbids foreign NGOs that get U.S. funds from even speaking about abortion

Millions of vulnerable women and girls in developing countries around the world

Passed: Trump signed executive action (Jan. 23)

“Defunding” Planned Parenthood

Blocks patients who have public insurance from accessing care at Planned Parenthood

2.5 million patients who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for preventive care

ACA repeal bill introduced (March 7); Vote pulled (March 24)

Slashing Maternity Coverage

Threatens to take away coverage or limit access to plans with only bare-bones coverage

9 million women who gained access to maternity and newborn coverage under the Affordable Care Act

ACA repeal bill introduced (March 7); Vote pulled (March 24);Offered as a trade-off to pass the bill (April 5)

Undermining Title X Protections

Rescinds a rule that protects Title X patients’ access to family planning care at health centers that provide abortion

More than 4 million people with low incomes who rely on Title X for family planning care

Passed: Mike Pence cast the deciding vote (March 30). It goes into effect after President Trump signs it.

Ending U.S. Funds to UNFPA

Cuts off U.S. funds for voluntary family planning, maternal health, and gender equity programs abroad

Vulnerable populations around the world (again), including women in humanitarian crises and conflict areas

Passed: The Trump administration announced the decision (April 4)

Confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

Makes the Supreme Court even more hostile to reproductive health and rights.

Anyone who cares about women’s health, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights.

Confirmed: The Senate voted with a narrow margin (April 7)

1. Expanding the Global Gag Rule

Since Ronald Reagan was in office, a harmful policy known as the global gag rule has been taken off the books by every Democratic president and put back on by every Republican president. It bans foreign NGOs that receive certain kinds of American aid from counseling on, referring for, or even advocating for abortion. It’s a policy that hurts the world’s most vulnerable women – and stifles free speech.

In one of his first executive actions in office and surrounded by smiling white men, President Trump instated an even worse version of this already dangerous rule. His action will be catastrophic for communities around the world that rely on U.S. funding to fight against Zika and to provide HIV/AIDS and maternal health care. This expanded version of the global gag rule threatens to undermine and reverse progress that family planning has made in lowering maternal mortality rates and preventing unsafe abortion worldwide. In fact, it could endanger the lives of millions of women and girls, and their babies.

2. Trying to “Defund” Planned Parenthood in the ACA Repeal Bill

An extremely harmful provision of the ACA repeal bill would have stopped Planned Parenthood, and only Planned Parenthood, from getting reimbursed for providing essential health services to patients served by Medicaid. This attack on access to care at Planned Parenthood is part of a larger, extreme agenda to shut down Planned Parenthood completely. The move would take away care from people who have a harder time accessing it in the first place, undercut the nation’s health care safety net, and, ultimately, cause a national health care disaster.

Even though Paul Ryan said pulled a vote on the bill last month, anti-women’s health politicians are still pushing for both a repeal of the ACA and a “defund” of Planned Parenthood. We haven’t heard the last of this.

3. Trying to Strip Maternity Care to Help Pass the ACA Repeal Bill

Vice President Mike Pence and the House Freedom Caucus negotiated to revive the failed ACA repeal bill with a cruel bargaining chip: giving states the option to eliminate plan coverage of the essential health benefits (EHBs). That’s exactly what they did to move the ACA repeal bill from the White House to Congress in the first place: Last month, in the dead of night, Congress traded away EHBs to get a few more votes from far-right extremists.

The EHBs are core health care services that the majority of plans must cover under the ACA — such as maternity and newborn coverage, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and prescription drugs. Women disproportionately rely on every one of the EHB standards, particularly maternity and newborn coverage. This proposal would not only gut maternity care, but also reduce women’s access to birth control and and raise insurance costs for women. And that could force women into a world where it’s nearly impossible to both prevent pregnancy and get medical care once they’re pregnant.

4. Undermining Protections for Title X, the Nation’s Family Planning Program

On March 30, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to dismantle President Obama’s rule protecting access to basic health care services through the Title X family planning program. The Obama administration's rule clarified existing federal law to make sure that patients have access to critical Title X care from the most qualified family planning provider available, regardless of whether it separately provides abortion services.

The Senate’s move against the protections could embolden anti-women’s health state politicians to block patients with low incomes who rely on Title X from getting care from reproductive health care providers, including Planned Parenthood, just because they also provide safe, legal abortion. The resolution was passed by the House and Senate, and it now heads to President Trump's desk for his signature. [Ed note: Trump is expected to sign the bill on Thursday.]

5. Ending U.S. Funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

On April 3, the Trump administration added to the worst political attacks on women’s health in a generation by quietly eliminating U.S. funding for UNFPA, a vital organization whose mission is to champion maternal and child health across the globe.

This move will be especially damaging at a time when there are said to be the highest levels of forced displacement globally recorded since World War II. That is because UNFPA is also a leading health care provider in humanitarian crises, ensuring women and others receive lifesaving care.

Reproductive health programs around the world have made strides to bring down maternal mortality and prevent unintended pregnancy. The administration’s move will have a devastating impact on UNFPA and reduce access to family planning — something we know will reverse those gains and put women's lives at risk.

6. Confirming Anti-Abortion Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

On April 7, President Trump's allies in the Senate voted to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court by a razor-thin vote. Gorsuch’s views are so outside of the mainstream that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had to change the rules in order to jam through his confirmation.

Gorsuch's out-of-touch judicial record are sure to threaten reproductive health and rights for decades to come. Over the next few years, the Supreme Court could rule on laws that undermine access to basic health care, target the LGBTQ community for discrimination, and deny the essential right to safe and legal abortion. Justice Gorsuch has a history of going to extraordinary lengths to interfere with reproductive health and rights, and his alarming record and judicial philosophy leave no doubt that he will vote to restrict access to abortion.

Take Action

With each dangerous policy, President Trump is confirming the worst fears of the millions of women who marched and organized after the election. If this administration were truly committed to empowering women, they would support efforts that help women and girls to live healthy lives.

Enough is enough. Join the fight to protect reproductive rights!

Miriam Berg

Miriam Berg is a digital content writer and producer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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