Congress is back in session. State legislatures are passing laws. And Trump is (still) tweeting.
We scored an incredible victory by defeating the Graham-Cassidy bill in September. But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the end of attacks on our reproductive rights. An attack on women’s health could come at any moment.
This fall, devastating anti-women policies are just as likely to come from a governor or the White House as they are to come from Congress. That’s why we need to be prepared to fight back at any moment in the coming months.
Here are the three threats we could be facing this fall:
1. Attacks from Congress
Now that the Graham-Cassidy bill has been defeated, lawmakers are plotting how they can pass a government spending bill by the end of this year. But we need to watch out — politicians can tack anti-women’s health amendments onto the spending bill. These amendments are sometimes called “riders” or “poison pills” and are blatant attacks on women’s health.
Republican members of the House just pushed through a spending bill with several cruel, harmful riders on it. A few include:
Ending the Title X family planning program, the the nation’s only federal program for birth control that 4 million women rely on each year. This would be a devastating blow for the people who rely on Title X for basic reproductive health care.
Eliminating the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which provides support for comprehensive sex education, and fund abstinence-only education programs instead.
Codifying the expanded global gag rule, which prevents foreign organizations from receiving any U.S. global health funds if they provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocate for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money. This harmful policy is already opposed by over 160 diverse organizations.
And now that this spending bill has passed the House, it only has to pass the Senate before it ends up on Donald Trump’s desk.
2. Attacks from the Trump administration
From left to right: Seema Verma, Donald Trump, Tom Price, Mike Pence.
Donald Trump and his administration — which includes anti-women health appointees like HHS Secretary Tom Price and CMS administrator Seema Verma — could wreak havoc on reproductive rights at any time.
Right now, Trump is preparing to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA) birth control benefit. Signed into law by President Obama in 2012, this benefit has provided more than 55 million women access to no-cost birth control.
But the Trump administration wants to get rid of contraceptive coverage entirely. His rumored plan would allow any employer (nonprofit, small business, or large corporation), school, or other entity to opt out of providing contraception coverage for religious or moral reasons. This would mean that women who work for an employer or attend a school that objects to the benefit would lose their birth control coverage.
Trump also wants to re-issue the harmful domestic gag rule by attacking Title X. If enacted, the domestic gag rule would cut off millions of pregnant women from access to complete and unbiased information about their medical options — including safe and legal abortion — and would disproportionately affect communities that already face significant challenges in getting the care they need, like communities of color and families with low incomes.
Another threat? The Trump administration gets to decide whether Texas’s dangerous, failing women’s health program gets federal approval and support from taxpayer dollars.
The so-called program,“Healthy Texas Women,” actually resulted in as many as 45,000 Texan women losing access to care at Planned Parenthood, and more than 39,000 women losing access to contraceptives. Meanwhile, Texas’s maternal mortality rate doubled.
But this summer, Texas Republicans sent Trump a dastardly proposal in which they asked for federal support anyway. And Seema Verma —who doesn’t think maternity coverage should be mandatory — has the final say in whether this disastrous proposal gets approved, paving the way for other states to follow suit.
3. Attacks from state governments
The threats we face don’t just come from Washington, D.C. Republican-led state legislatures all over the country are determined to pass laws that harm women.
Texas, for example, recently created two laws that restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion. And in July, gynotician governor Eric Greitens signed a law that tightens abortion regulations even further in Missouri.
Gov. Greitens signing another disastrous bill into law.
And you may have seen South Carolina governor Henry McMaster’s harmful new executive order, announced via Twitter last month. The politically motivated order directs state agencies to block women from getting preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers, hurting South Carolinians for the sake of politics.
In other words, McMaster is trying to follow Texas’s dangerous lead to exclude Planned Parenthood centers from giving patients the basic health care they need. Cutting off access to health care is hardest on people who already face systemic barriers to accessing health care — especially people of color, young people, people with low incomes, and people who live in rural areas.
Now’s the time to stop any and all attacks from extreme governors, Congress, and the Trump administration. Here’s what you need to do to fight back.