Without wasting any time, the new administration put politics ahead of women’s lives. Yesterday President Donald Trump (with Vice President Mike Pence looking over his shoulder) expanded the already harmful global gag rule — a move that will cause health centers to close around the world. And any day now, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s no-copay birth control benefit and the Obama administration’s action to protect access to care at Planned Parenthood are likely to be on the chopping block.
Remember: On the campaign trail, Trump and Pence promised to roll back these federal protections — protections that safeguard women’s health, but which the executive branch can change all on its own. Now, with both of them in the White House (and with anti-abortion extremist Tom Price close to joining the administration as Health Secretary), it’s time to watch out and fight back.
Here’s what you need to know about these attacks on women’s health, and how to take action.
Global Gag Rule
Photo: Ron Sachs - Pool/Getty Images
On his first Monday in the White House, President Trump issued an expanded version of the dangerous global gag rule. The policy now prevents organizations in developing countries from receiving any U.S. global health funding if they happen to provide counseling, referrals, or services for safe and legal abortion — even with their own funding. The same goes if they advocate for laws that allow or protect abortion. In other words, if a health center even mentions abortion in a waiting room pamphlet, it’s disqualified from getting any U.S. global health funding to provide lifesaving care through HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, maternal and child health, and Zika programs, to name a few.
The global gag rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, was first imposed as an executive memo in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. Since then, both Democratic presidents have reversed the rule ... while every Republican president has carried it over. Now, the Trump-Pence administration has gone even further than their predecessors by not just reinstating the rule, but expanding it.
By expanding the global gag rule as one of his first actions in office, President Trump sends a false message around the world that the U.S. is against abortion rights above all else — a stance with which most Americans disagree. The action also threatens to undermine years of efforts to improve women’s health worldwide. The global gag rule will cause clinic closures around the world. That means more unintended pregnancy and more unsafe abortion, not less. As a direct result of this policy, the world’s most vulnerable women will suffer.
No-Copay Birth Control Under the ACA
But the attacks on federal protections for reproductive health won’t end there. As you probably know, the ACA (a/k/a Obamacare) already has a target on its back. But should it survive — and Planned Parenthood advocates intend to do everything in our power to make sure that happens — the popular contraceptive coverage provision will likely be targeted. That birth control provision requires all health plans to cover all FDA-approved methods of birth control with no copay. The Trump-Pence administration wants to stop this time-tested benefit, even though it’s made birth control affordable and available to more than 55 million women, and saved them at least $1.4 billion in the ACA’s first year alone.
Also at risk is the helpful policy that makes sure women still get no-copay, no co-insurance birth control coverage through their health insurers even if the boss or the college providing their health insurance objects to birth control on religious grounds. In fact, if President Trump rolls this back, all bosses and school leaders — regardless of their religious affiliation — could be able to deny their employees and students copay-free coverage.
Title X Rule
Title X is the federal program that provides family planning services, cancer screenings, and STI testing to low-income and uninsured or underinsured Americans. More than a third of all Title X patients are seen at Planned Parenthood, even though the organization operates only about 10% of all Title X-participating health centers.
After anti-abortion politicians in more than a dozen states tried to stop Planned Parenthood from providing family planning services through the program — with life-threatening results, in some cases — President Obama took steps to help protect access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers. However, the incoming administration could undo them. Given that Vice President Mike Pence has been on a years long crusade against Planned Parenthood, you can probably count on the new administration to start taking those steps ASAP.
Fighting Back is Better Than Getting Depressed. Seriously.
Feeling discouraged? Just remember the millions of men and women who marched this weekend. The Women’s Marches around the world made clear that the American people will not stand for attacks on women’s health and rights.
Channel your anger into action! Find our top actions to take right now at PlannedParenthoodAction.org/Act. That page features the best ways to get involved with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund online and in person.
As Planned Parenthood has done for a century, we at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund will keep fighting until reproductive rights aren’t subject to presidential whims. We’ll keep fighting until reproductive rights are guaranteed to everybody.