Donald Trump, his administration and his judicial appointments are waging an all-out assault on legal access to abortion and contraception.
Consider this case:
A 17-year-old woman detained in a refugee center in Texas has been denied access to an abortion even though the head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement knows the pregnancy is the result of rape in her home country. Money has been privately raised to cover her abortion but instead of allowing her to terminate the pregnancy, the government forced her to go to a religiously-affiliated, anti-abortion center against her will. There she was “counseled” to continue the pregnancy and she was forced against her will to have a sonogram performed by non-medical personnel. This is the fourth young immigrant to face this denial. In the previous cases, judges ruled to uphold the women’s right to access an abortion, asserting the legal right to abortion is not tied to immigration status. But despite those legal rulings, Trump appointees continue their assault on the right to reproductive choice. Like all bullies, they target the most vulnerable.
Within days of his inauguration, Trump reinstated the global gag rule that pulls all U.S. aid from organizations, some in the poorest countries of the world, that counsel women about abortion. These targeted organizations are being blackmailed: either eliminate abortion services or all funding will be cut, including money for HIV testing, family planning, maternal and child health care, malaria prevention and nutrition. Trump has blocked money for the U.N. Population Fund that supports reproductive and maternal health programs in 150 countries. He has proposed pulling all funding for international family planning.
With its draconian restrictions on abortion, Texas now has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the U.S., and Texas leads maternal mortality in the rest of the developed world.
Trump’s focus on dismantling the Affordable Care Act is an assault on women’s reproductive healthcare. The ACA meant women had coverage for routine medical exams, testing and comprehensive contraception. Now Trump has issued an executive order, blocked by two federal courts, that would allow any employer to deny insurance coverage for contraception on either religious or moral grounds. That means virtually any employer can deny female employees coverage for contraception but provide male employees with coverage for Viagra.
Research has shown abstinence-only sex education does not work, but the new Trump administration favors abstinence-only approaches that provide misleading and outright inaccurate information about harm from contraception and abortion.
Facts painfully belie the cruel irony of calling this ideology “Pro Life.” It is not. The World Health Organization and other reputable organizations have linked increasing restrictions on abortion with increasing maternal mortality.
An anti-abortion organization ironically calling itself Americans United for Life has pushed bans on abortions past 20 weeks, something extremely rare and usually done only to save the life of the mother or due to severe fetal deformity. But in a classic spin on truth, the organization states: “Late term abortions cost more than early abortions, a fact that reflects the greater health risk of later abortions and provides an incentive for the abortion industry to support late-term abortions instead of women’s health and safety.”
That is a dishonest statement crafted to advance an ideology with no ethical or moral foundation.
The anti-abortion agenda is a pro-death agenda for the most vulnerable women.