Women's Rights / Reproductive Justice

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Recent Updates
Recent Updates

  • 02/17/2017: A Republican plan for replacing the Affordable Care Act would offer tax credits to all Americans purchasing coverage on the individual market and would not allow women to use those subsidies to buy plans that paid for abortion. This could cause many carriers to eliminate abortion coverage in the individual market. [1]
  • 02/16/2017: The House voted to reverse an Obama administration regulation that blocks states from withholding federal family-planning dollars from Planned Parenthood and other health centers that provide abortions. [2]

How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Actions Taken by the Federal Government

Legislative Actions

Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice

  • HER Act (HR 671) would reverse Trump's executive order reinstating the Global Gag Rule, reinstating US funding for overseas abortion providers.

Harmful Legislation

  • No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (HR 7) makes the provisions of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions, permanent. It would also disallow credit or cost-sharing reductions for insurance plans that cover abortion, and in effect would cause millions of Americans to lose insurance coverage for abortion.[3][4].

See also the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Executive / Administrative Actions

  • 1/31/2017: Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, who has sided with religious employers seeking to limit their employees' right to access birth control.[5]
  • 1/26/2017: The New York Times has obtained copies of two draft executive orders, one of which calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that, among other criteria, supports program that fund abortions. The other order calls for a review of all current and pending multilateral treaties and asks for recommendations on which to leave; the explanatory statement accompanying it mentions two UN treaties for review, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[hhttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/us/politics/united-nations-trump-administration.html]
  • 1/23/17: The Global Gag Rule was reinstated by Executive Order. This Rule bans international NGOs from providing abortion services or offering information about abortions if they receive US funding. The order does not eliminate international aid for abortions, which is already prohibited by federal law under the Helms amendment. Rather, the gag rule takes the Helms amendment one step further by preventing NGOs from using private funds to offer abortions or even refer people to groups that provide abortions.[6] Leading aid groups say that this will be a major step back in international family planning progress, likely leading to an increase in unintended pregnancies and abortions. It will impact work funded by groups such as USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Health, the Peace Corps, the Department of Defense, and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—and these organizations are some of the largest funders of family planning in the world.[7] Experts say the gag rule will apply to 15 times more funding than it previously had under Ronald Reagan.[8] It is set to affect some of the world’s poorest people and is expected to have the biggest impact for women seeking health services in Africa and South America.[9][10]
  • 1/19/2017: Recent reporting states that as part of budget cuts, the Trump team plans to cut Violence Against Women grants.[11] This is of particular concern to women with disabilities, given that they are 40% more likely to experience intimate partner violence.[12]

Projected Impact
Projected Impact

Women make up 19% of Congress, but 51% of the population.[13] Women are particularly underrepresented among Republicans, comprising only 9% of the Republicans in Congress, compared to 32% of the Democrats.[14] Women will likely be severely underrepresented during Trump's presidency, as Republicans are the majority party in the Senate and House of Representatives, and are in control of the Executive Branch. Women make up only 22% of Trump's Cabinet picks.[15]

Abortion Restrictions

  • While it would take several Supreme Court appointments to do, overturning Roe v. Wade would allow states to outlaw abortion in all forms. In 2016, 19 states passed a combined 60 new restrictions on abortion.[16] Use this tool to learn about restrictions/access to abortion in your state, and find more information on federal restrictions through the Guttmacher Institute.
  • Research shows that reducing access to abortion does not substantially reduce the number of individuals who decide to have abortions.[17] Instead, most people experience additional financial and physical health risks in order to conduct the procedure in spite of these barriers.[18] These risks would disproportionately impact low-income individuals, who comprise three-quarters of abortion patients, and people of color, who comprise 61% of abortion patients.[19]
  • In January 2017, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Act. The act bans most second-trimester pregnancies, as physicians are no longer legally allowed to use surgical tools to dilate and remove a fetus from the womb. A clause was also included that allows the husband of a woman seeking an abortion to sue the operating physician for monetary damages and prevent the abortion procedure altogether. The ACLU of Arkansas plans to challenge the law. Six other states have passed similar laws; in states where the laws were challenged (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia), they was struck down by the courts.[20]

Defunding Planned Parenthood

  • Under the Hyde amendment, federal funding cannot be used to provide abortion services unless the life of the mother is threatened or a pregnancy is caused by rape.[21] Currently, only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortion.[22] If Planned Parenthood were defunded, the biggest effect would be eliminating the other 97% of services Planned Parenthood provide—like STD screening, cancer screening and prevention, prenatal services, and family practice services.[23]
  • Check out the State and Local Pages to learn about how much more women were paying for health care than men in your state prior to the ACA, and how that will likely happen again if the ACA is repealed.

Child Care

  • Trump's child-care plan[24] would allow parents to deposit up to $2,000 pretax annually on behalf of children. The government would match half of the first $1,000 deposited each year by lower-income parents (though the plan doesn’t define “low income”). Because tax savings would be proportional to income tax rates, the highest earners would benefit the most. For example, a family in the 39.6% top tax bracket would save $396 in tax for every $1,000 they deposited (plus the additional benefit of not paying tax on interest earned in the account). In contrast, a family in the 10% bottom tax bracket would save just $100 on the same $1,000 deposit.
  • The new deduction would allow parents earning less than $250,000 per year ($500,000 if married) to deduct the cost of child care up to their state average. The plan spells out that even stay-at-home parents would receive a benefit, so, unlike the current child-care tax subsidies, parents could collect the tax savings without spending anything. As with the plan’s savings accounts, families who pay the highest tax rates would benefit most, and low-income families would benefit little or not at all.
  • Finally, Trump’s plan includes a “child-care spending rebate” for low-income parents through the existing earned income tax credit. Trump’s campaign website says that “this boost would be half of the payroll taxes paid by the lower-earning parent, and would be subject to an income limitation of $31,200.” As a result, low-income married couples would benefit only if both spouses work. In contrast, high-income couples with one worker would benefit from other provisions. Finally, as with all tax benefits, families wouldn’t get financial assistance until they file their tax returns in the spring, many months after child care bills are due.
  • With a continued absence of national policies on childcare and family leave, women have reached the outer limit of their ability to multi-task. Since the last days of Bill Clinton's presidency, when women's labor force participation rate was looking to soon equal the men's at 70 percent, that number has dropped. The country is losing workers, money and growth by failing to invest in family-friendly policies for workers.[25]

Maternity Leave Policy

  • Trump's policy, by definition, excludes paid leave for new fathers. This raises concerns that the maternity leave policy could therefore widen the wage gap, by taking women out of the workforce while men continue working.[26] If men were offered paternity leave, the wage gap would likely decrease. Iit is reported that mothers earn approximately 7% more, on average, for every month the father takes a leave of absence at work for child care.[27] Thus, Donald Trump's current policy on maternity could hurt women more than it would help.
  • It is possible that benefits received under the new policy will vary widely based on state. At present, the maximum unemployment benefits an employee is eligible to receive is decided on a state-by-state basis, and the state also decides how to define what parents' earnings were before they took leave.[28]

Trump / GOP Strategy
Trump / GOP Strategy

  • Trump and the GOP Congress plan to limit access to reproductive health services, especially access to abortion. Trump has pledged[29] to appoint Supreme Court justices who are committed to overturning Roe v. Wade,[30] the legal decision establishing a person's constitutional right to choose to end the life of their unborn fetus.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that, as part of their push to repeal Obamacare, Republicans will move to remove all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.[31].
  • The new Secretary for Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has publicly declared that affected persons should pay for contraceptives and that contraceptive coverage in the ACA "is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty."[32] In 2015, he voted with House Republicans to attempt to dismantle the District of Columbia's Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA), "which protects employees from retaliation over their reproductive health-care choices."[33] He has been in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood and making abortion illegal.[34]
  • Trump has proposed advancing legislation regarding child-care costs, including a child-care savings account, a new deduction, and a separate credit for some low-income families.[35]
  • Trump also proposed to provide six weeks of paid leave to "new mothers" (unclear if this refers only to biological mothers) through enhancing Unemployment Insurance (UI).[36] His website states the cost would be "offset through changes in the existing UI system".[37]

Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy

  • It would require confirming two or three anti-abortion Supreme Court Justices to dismantle Roe v. Wade, and confirming justices would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Just as Republican Senators blocked President Obama from appointing Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Democrats could conceivably block Trump's Supreme Court nominees if they do not support Roe v. Wade.[38]
  • The prospective defunding of Planned Parenthood faces many vulnerabilities, one of which is the organization's high favorability. It has been found that only 29% of Americans view Planned Parenthood as unfavorable; defunding it could be a public relations nightmare.[39] Furthermore, the GOP has no viable replacement for Planned Parenthood. In 2015, a federal court was provided with a 2,000-item list that was meant to comprise practical replacements for the same family planning services that Planned Parenthood offered. However, it fell short, as a federal judge found that none of the services listed would accommodate the services Planned Parenthood provided. (The list included dentists, cosmetic surgeons, and nursing home caregivers.) It was thus found that no other health-service provider could handle the scope of care and density of patients that Planned Parenthood helps; it's practically irreplaceable.[40]

Past Updates
Past Updates

  • 02/02/2017: A draft executive order entitled "Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom" has been leaked. If signed in its current form, it would create wholesale exemptions for people and "any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations," who claim moral or religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, or trans identity when "providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments." It would also curtail women's access to contraception and abortion through the ACA. This could violate federal law, as well as the First Amendment.[41]
  • 01/30/2017: In response to the possible threat of Roe v. Wade's being overturned by a conservative-majority Supreme Court, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a state constitutional amendment that would protect the Roe v. Wade decision.[42]
  • 01/26/2017: Up to 20 countries have indicated support for the Dutch government's plan to set up an international safe abortion fund to offset a $600m funding gap caused by Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the “global gag rule.” The rule was reimposed by Trump on January 23 and bans US federal funding for NGOs in foreign countries that provide abortion services or abortion advocacy.[43] [44]
  • 1/17/2017: Donald Trump is being sued for defamation (a civil suit saying that someone has publicly lied about an individual) by one of the women who accused him of sexually assaulting her.[45] If the case is allowed to proceed, Trump will have to demonstrate that his statement saying the woman was lying was true. As a result, this lawsuit will examine whether Trump actually sexually assaulted women.
  • 1/12/2017: An amendment introduced by Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) to the 2017 budget resolution was ruled out of order by the chair.[46] The amendment would have prevented lawmakers from rolling back protections in the ACA/Obamacare that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against women and require them to provide health care that only applies to women (e.g., maternity care) without charging women more.[47]