In the first weeks of 2020, the Trump-Pence administration has launched an onslaught against reproductive health and access to care at Planned Parenthood.
We can’t remember another January as filled with attacks on sexual and reproductive health. As we tune into President Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress, his remarks come against a backdrop of inflammatory messages and dangerous policies — policies that threaten our access to health care.
Check out the quick timeline of the Trump-Pence administration’s attacks on our health and rights — including how it’s affecting people.
See how relentless the attacks were in January with this high-level timeline, which notes the big moves that affect our health and rights. Reminder: 187 Trump-appointed judges who now occupy lifetime positions on the federal bench — many with records of hostility to reproductive health and rights — are poised to make decisions about our rights and health for a generation.
Administration proposes "religious liberty" regulations that would eliminate protections for people who rely on federally funded programs and services, and make it easier for faith-based organizations to receive federal funds domestically and abroad
Supreme Court agrees to hear oral arguments on a case about birth control, posing a threat to access to birth control for millions
Administration approves Texas program that excludes Planned Parenthood health centers — an unprecedented decision that potentially gives other states a green light to “defund” Planned Parenthood
Administration violates the rights of pregnant (or potentially pregnant) travelers by invading their privacy and threatening to deny them access to the U.S. for tourism, work, or visits with friends or family
Supreme Court allows a policy that penalizes and threatens immigrants’ access to public benefits to take effect
Administration encourages states to implement programs that could threaten access to Medicaid coverage
Attacking Health Care Access for Marginalized Communities
One of the first attacks of the year came when USAID and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with other agencies, proposed rules that could make it easier for faith-based organizations both domestically and abroad to receive taxpayer funding while simultaneously promoting their religion and not sharing secular alternatives with patients.
This proposal could make it more likely that taxpayer dollars end up supporting culturally incompetent, unethical providers that discriminate against and deny services to marginalized communities — including LGBTQ people, women, and religious minorities. In turn, this policy could impact peoples' ability to access HIV and STI prevention programs, reproductive health services, youth homelessness services, and foster care and adoption services.
Attacking Birth Control Coverage
The Supreme Court agreed in January to hear a case about a Trump policy that would let bosses and universities deny birth control coverage to their employees and students. These rules are currently blocked by the courts. Nine in 10 women will use birth control in their lifetimes, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) currently guarantees that health insurance will cover birth control with no copay or other out-of-pocket costs. Remember: Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch were both nominated by Trump, who promised during his campaign to appoint judges who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade. The Court review creates uncertainty for 62 million people who gained access to copay-free birth control coverage thanks to the ACA.
Attacking Planned Parenthood
On the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, HHS decided to let Texas receive federal Medicaid funding for a state program that bars patients in the program from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood and other health centers that also provide abortion. This move upends longstanding federal law. In the past, the federal government has refused to fund state Medicaid programs that aim to take away the right of Medicaid users to choose whatever qualified reproductive health care provider they want.
Several years ago, Texas ended its federal Medicaid family program and started a completely state-run family planning program in order to bar people with low incomes from Planned Parenthood. After that choice, nearly 45,000 people lost access to preventive, reproductive health care — a nearly 40% drop. But now, the federal government has approved Texas’ plan to block Medicaid patients from Planned Parenthood, and is giving the state federal dollars for it. This decision opens the floodgates for other anti-abortion states to follow suit, putting health care at risk for people across the country.
Discriminating Against Immigrants and Travelers to the U.S.
On Jan. 23, the Trump-Pence administration, without any opportunity for public input or comment, started letting the State Department deny temporary visas to pregnant women in a policy that targets and discriminates against women of color. The cruel rule lets consular officers withhold temporary travel visas to women they believe are traveling to the United States just to give birth, and who live outside protected countries, mostly in Europe, from which a visit does not require a visa.
Greenlighting another attack on people who were not born in the United States, the Supreme Court decided on Jan. 27 to allow a Trump-Pence administration policy to take effect that allows it to punish immigrants who access public benefits. This inhumane public charge rule is designed to deter immigrants from using Medicaid, food stamps, public housing, and other government assistance. This policy will harm immigrants’ abilities to protect themselves and their families, driving more and more people into the shadows.
Attacking Abortion Access
On Jan. 24, Trump became the first sitting president to speak in person at the anti-abortion March for Life. There, he spread inflammatory disinformation and offensive rhetoric about abortion, and bragged about his administration's policies that cut people off from health care.
That same day, the administration threatened to remove federal funding from the state of California for requiring health insurance plans to cover abortion.
These moves made it more clear than ever that the Trump-Pence administration will do anything it can to end access to safe, legal abortion in this country.
At the end of January, the administration announced an effort to allow states to completely restructure Medicaid. The proposal invites states to overhaul Medicaid into a block grant or per capita system, which would result in drastic cuts to funding and could cause people with low incomes, disproportionately women of color, to lose their health insurance. The proposal also encourages states to cut off people with Medicaid from the provider of their choice, such as Planned Parenthood health centers.
Medicaid is the largest source of reproductive health coverage in the United States. People of color — who already face systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, and are therefore more likely to have low incomes and more likely to use Medicaid — would be hit hardest by the administration’s attack.
Recent Attacks in Context
These recent federal-level policies come amid long-term attacks on our health and rights from Trump, anti-abortion politicians in Congress, and their allies in statehouses across the country.
They enacted 25 state-level bans on safe, legal abortion in 2019 alone — despite the fact that support for abortion access is at an all-time high.
They stacked federal courts with judges, many of whom have records that are opposed to reproductive health and rights. That includes the two Trump appointees on the Supreme Court — which is set to rule this year on a case that could make the protections of Roe v. Wade virtually meaningless.
They forced Planned Parenthood and other providers out of Title X, the national program for birth control and other reproductive health care, through an unethical gag rule.
The kicker: Trump’s harmful policies fall hardest on communities of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and people with low incomes.
Since taking office, the Trump-Pence administration has been pushing policy after policy to take away our rights to control our bodies and our lives. If you’re having trouble keeping up, we’ve got you: Visit TrackingTrump.org. It’s your easy-to-read guide to everything the administration is doing to limit access to sexual and reproductive health care, clamp down on immigration rights, and more.
You can’t protect people’s rights without knowing the threats. So don’t just stop at TrackingTrump.org — also visit the Abortion Access Tool. This interactive map shows abortion laws and restrictions by state, and how access to abortion would change if Roe v. Wade is overturned.