With less than 24 hours until Donald Trump’s inauguration, the world is waiting with bated breath. There is a lot of speculation as to what might or might not happen. And while there’s no way to know for sure, there are six potential issues that are going to be at the forefront for women under the Trump administration.
1. The threat to Planned Parenthood.
The good news is this issue has been widely publicized. Stripping Planned Parenthood of all federal funding – which comprises 45% of its income – has been hot on the agenda for conservatives. Abortion services are at the center of this debate, despite the fact that no federal funding goes to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood offers services critical to women’s health, including pap smears, mammograms, STD tests, affordable birth control, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal care. In fact, this is 97% of what they do. For the 2.5 million people who visit Planned Parenthood every year – especially for those with low incomes – access to these services is literally saving lives.
2. Impediments to a woman’s right to choose.
Donald Trump has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose Roe v. Wade, the historical ruling that gave women the freedom to make their own medical decisions – including abortion. This right would be in jeopardy if the Supreme Court chose to re-examine the case. Even more likely are tighter state-enforced restrictions on abortions. Ohio recently attempted to pass “the heartbeat bill”, outlawing abortions after 6 weeks into pregnancy and in practice, effectively making abortions illegal. This was replaced by a ban after 20 weeks, but similar efforts will follow from state politicians who feel emboldened by Trump’s presidency.
3. Funding cuts to prevent domestic violence.
The incoming administration recently announced that they are working on plans to cut federal funding for several programs, including the arts, humanities, and most alarmingly, initiatives to end violence against women. The blueprint also calls for cuts to the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women grant program. The grants include funding to provide services to sexual assault victims and legal assistance for victims of stalking, sexual assault and domestic and dating violence. With victims receiving little enough support as it is, this would be a serious blow.
4. No support for equal pay.
Trump has expressed no intentions on pursuing wage equality for women. Although he has said men and women deserve equal pay for equal work, he was hesitant to admit that the wage gap exists in today’s America. He was also reluctant to advocate for federal intervention to correct any gaps, calling it a descent into socialism. With women still earning 83 cents for every dollar earned by men, this is a problematic position to take.
5. An end to free birth control.
Obamacare required insurance providers to cover birth control with no copayment – and repealing Obamacare is #1 on Trump’s to do list. With no replacement plan yet announced, the future of birth control is uncertain. Without insurance coverage, birth control could cost women $350-$700 every year. For women who require specific brands or types of birth control, the cost could be even higher. Even though the opposition to this coverage has been intense, common sense tells you that a person who can’t afford birth control certainly can’t afford a child – and the last thing conservatives want is another family on welfare, right?
6. No progress for sexual harassment in the workplace.
Trump’s position on this issue is problematically simple: women can take action within their company or quit. First of all, women are not always believed or supported within the company. If these actions are coming from a superior, her options within the company are even more limited. And small employers may not even have the infrastructure in place to make reporting possible (ex: an HR department). Secondly, quitting is not always a viable option for women who rely on the paycheck and benefits. As anyone who has been in the job market can attest, it’s not as simple as securing another job immediately. And thirdly, why should the victim have to leave when she did nothing wrong?!
It’s important to note that these are not just Trump’s positions – these are beliefs held by the people appointed to his Cabinet, as well as many of the Republicans in the House and Senate. These could very well be realities, and sooner than later.
There is a reason for the explosion of women’s marches across America. We have to make our voices heard. Get involved with local organizations. Call or at least write your representatives in Congress. Go to a march. It’s easy to close your eyes and just wait for the next four years to be over, but stay woke. It’s important to stay engaged to ensure we don’t take steps back in the next four years.