“10 Things I Hate About You”: Trump’s assault on women’s health and rights around the world
By Caitlin Horrigan | March 8, 2018, 3:38 p.m.
Category: Abortion Access, Health Care Equity
1. Resurrected and radically expanded the global gag rule
In one of his first acts as president, Trump signed a death warrant for women around the world by reinstating an expanded version of the already devastating global gag rule. This is a policy that withholds U.S. global health funding for international organizations that counsel, refer, or provide safe and legal abortion services using other, non-U.S. funding.
This policy is downright dangerous. And despite the State Department’s misleading attempts to minimize the impact of the global gag rule, powerful testimony by health providers like Melvine Ouyo, a nurse at a clinic in Kenya, suggest otherwise: “We recently ran out of contraceptive stocks. As a result, young women are already coming in with unplanned pregnancies and complications from unsafe abortions.”
2. Banned U.S. funding for the UN reproductive health and rights agency
In another cruel attack on women’s health last year, the Trump-Pence administration withheld all U.S. funding to UNFPA — one of the most critical sources of contraceptive supplies around the world that is working toward a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
The move abandons women in over 150 countries who count on UNFPA to expand access to contraception and combat maternal mortality, obstetric fistula, female genital mutilation, gender-based violence, and HIV/AIDS. This includes women in some of the most challenging humanitarian crises and conflict-affected areas.
For example, UNFPA supports and operates the comprehensive maternity ward in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. In the Rukban camp located between Syria and Jordan, UNFPA’s “hospitainers” — mobile maternity wards operating out of shipping containers — provide critical care to the nearly 40,000 men, women, and children who remain stranded.
3. Slashed funding for international family planning programs
In his first budget proposal to Congress, President Trump completely eliminated funding for international family planning programs. This is unprecedented for a program that has helped expand access to family planning services in countries with low incomes for over 50 years and currently operates in nearly 40 countries.
Zeroing out these vital programs means that 25 million women and couples would lose access to contraceptive services and supplies. This would result in 7.4 million unintended pregnancies and 15,000 maternal deaths.
4. Installed an anti-abortion extremist to represent the U.S.
As governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley undermined the health and rights of women and LGBTQ people in her state. In fact, she once claimed that “women don’t care about contraception.” So what does Trump do? Nominate her to serve as our ambassador to the UN, of course!
As ambassador, Haley’s ability to hurt women and LGBTQ folks has taken new heights. It should come as no surprise that under Haley’s watch, the U.S. sent an anti-women, anti-LGBTQ hate group to the UN Commission on the Status of Women as part of their official delegation. Or that the U.S. stood in the way of global consensus on combating violence against women and expanding access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
This year’s commission starts again next week — and you better believe we’ll be watching who Haley is standing with and for when she shows up.
5. Tried to hire a staunch opponent of women’s health and rights
Last fall, news broke that the White House was courting Concerned Women of America’s (CWA) Penny Nance to serve as the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. Under Nance’s leadership, CWA called the authorization of the Office of Global Women’s Issues a “wasteful and unnecessary idea” and opposed efforts to combat violence against women and prohibit workplace discrimination against women and LGBTQ people. She even criticized Frozen for sending a message that boys aren’t essential. Ironic, right?
Eventually, Nance backed down, but the administration has yet to name a new nominee and concerns remain that they will continue to consider extremely unqualified candidates.
6. Puts people’s lives at risk with broad refusal policy
In January 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a far-reaching proposed rule that would empower doctors to discriminate against LGBTQ people and women seeking safe, legal abortion.
It would affect numerous health care programs across the federal government, and guess what? That includes our global health programs administered by HHS, which are focused on HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal and child health, and global health security.
Women, young people, and LGBTQ communities count on these global health programs — and this rule threatens to erode their access to comprehensive and accurate information and care.
7. Broke a Senate deadlock to install Sam Brownback as Ambassador for International Religious Freedom
As a senator and governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback cited religion to undermine our health and rights, promoted discrimination, banned abortion, attacked access to birth control, and denied young people access to repro health information. This made his nomination to serve as our ambassador charged with promoting global religious freedom deeply ironic — and downright offensive.
When it came time for the Senate to confirm Brownback as our ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, the votes weren’t there. But would the Trump-Pence administration miss a chance to install an ideological soulmate in this key post? Nope! That’s why Mike Pence came down to the Capitol and cast the tie-breaking vote.
8. Slammed the door on immigrants fleeing violence
In late January 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that ended the Syrian refugee program and imposed faith- and nationalization-based restrictions on refugees seeking to enter the U.S. The policy was clearly designed to target Muslim communities and hurt the most vulnerable people in the world — people fleeing violence or working to help others in their communities. It also disproportionately affects women and children, who constitute the majority of Syrian refugees who have entered the U.S. since the crisis began.
One of the many people who were affected was Khaled Almilaji, a Syrian doctor who was pursuing a master’s degree in public health at Brown University. After the travel ban was announced, he remained stuck outside the country. Before coming to the U.S., he provided health care in Syria, coordinating a vaccination campaign that protected 1.4 million Syrian children. Now, at the University of Toronto, Almilaji is building the Avicenna Women and Children’s hospital, which will provide reproductive and maternity care in Idlib, Syria. The hospital will be two floors underground — out of the reach of airstrikes.
9. Endangered underserved women by withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement
When Trump withdrew U.S. support from the Paris climate agreement, he not only put the country out of step with the rest of the world, but he also hurt women who bear the disproportionate brunt of climate change.
Women, especially those in countries with low incomes, don’t have adequate resources to adapt to the environmental shifts brought on by climate change. In many places, women are responsible for securing food, water, and energy for their homes. Droughts or erratic rainfall, brought on by climate change, means they have to travel further to get these basic resources. This increases their risk for gender-based violence and the pressure for girls to drop out of school to help their mothers.
Women also often have fewer resources and more caregiving responsibilities, making it harder for them to flee natural disasters and more likely to die as a result. Failing to join the global community in tackling climate change hurts everyone, but in many instances women experience the most serious consequences.
10. Censoring the State Department’s annual human rights report
Just last month, reports revealed that the State Department plans to eliminate mentions of reproductive health and discrimination from the 2018 Human Rights Report. Human rights activists around world rely on this report to hold perpetrators accountable, and censoring information sends the dangerous signal that the U.S. does not care about women’s human rights.
The report has yet to be released, but pressure from outside organizations, as well House and Senate allies, is mounting to ensure this report respects that human rights are universal and must include women’s rights, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights.
The bottom line
There you have it: Ten ways the Trump-Pence administration has hurt women globally since taking office. And if you think this was long, believe us — this is just the abbreviated version.
Stand with women around the world and tell your members of Congress that Trump’s global gag rule has got to go – because the #ResistanceIsGlobal and we refuse to be gagged.