What Women’s Health Care Issues Are Most At-Risk Under Trump?
President Trump and whatever his plans are for the future of health care in this nation have galvanized thousands of women who say they aren’t backing down from a fight with the most powerful man in the world to protect health issues related to their bodies.
The tension boiled over the weekend of Trump’s Inauguration, when an estimated 500,000 people flooded the nation’s capital for the Women’s March to protest the new president’s treatment of women.
Trump’s rhetoric toward women — from calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” and suggesting former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever” to the leaked 2005 recording of him bragging about grabbing women — garnered much attention on the campaign trail.
How Progressive is Trump on health care?
But it’s the president’s health care policies that could have the most impact on women’s lives.
When it comes to women’s rights, Trump may actually be more progressive than most Republicans. The president has signaled support for policies that would establish paid leave for mothers of newborn babies and make child care more affordable for working families.
But Trump also holds many other conservative Republican values that run contrary to calls from women’s groups.
He nominated a pro-life Supreme Court justice in Neil Gorsuch and has sworn to defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions for women.
Also, the president has seemed determined to roll back Obamacare, including a provision that provides women with free birth control.
Critics have also raised questions about how Trump could effectively reduce violence against women.
“Throughout a long and divisive campaign, Mr. Trump made it clear that he does not believe that women’s rights are human rights,” Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said ahead of the Women’s March.
But “there is a powerful resistance movement swelling in our nation,” O’Neill said.
“Believe me, we will not be ignored,” she added.
Trump has gotten off to a rough start in the White House. In January, he became the first president to take office with an approval rating of less than 50 percent, according to a poll by Gallup.
Among women, 42 percent approved of Trump while 49 percent disapproved, the poll found.
Will Roe v. Wade be overturned?
The battle over the Supreme Court is viewed by many as central to women’s health issues. Trump promised to nominate a justice who would vote to strike down the high court’s decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortions.
This concerns women’s rights groups.
Just days after Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said she recognized that “Roe v. Wade was on the ballot,” during an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
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“There are almost no words to capture the threat that this election result poses to … access to reproductive health care,” Richards later said in a statement.
But Trump’s plan to criminalize abortion will be easier said than done. Even if Gorsuch is confirmed by the Senate, it is unclear how many of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade or even if a case would present itself to the court that could undermine the 1973 landmark decision.
Trump’s plan will require patience. There is speculation that three of the court’s liberal and moderate justices, who would likely vote to uphold Roe v. Wade, could retire during his tenure. That would open the door to Trump loading the Supreme Court with several more conservative justices who oppose abortion.
Trump’s fight to defund Planned Parenthood could have a more immediate impact on women who depend on the organization for affordable health care. The president admitted that Planned Parenthood “does some very good work” treating health issues, such as cervical cancer, but he has refused to fund the organization so long as it performs abortions.
Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million each year in federal funds. Taking this money away would severely limit the organization’s reach, Republicans reason.
In protest, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Massachuesetts Democrat, and Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, donned pink Planned Parenthood scarves at the inauguration.
“When I talk about 1955, I’m talking about a world where women died,” Warren said in 2015 in response to the debate over defunding Planned Parenthood. “I’m talking about a world where women committed suicide rather than go forward with a pregnancy they could not handle.”
Planned Parenthood and birth control
This comes as Trump wages war on Obamacare.
On Capitol Hill, the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare will keep Republicans and Democrats busy in the coming months, but Trump could unilaterally remove a provision of the health care law that grants some 55 million women access to free birth control.
The health care law requires insurers to provide women with “preventative health care” free of charge. Regulations from the Obama administration defined birth control as preventative care, but Trump could overturn this policy.
“We’re at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy, and a record low for teenage pregnancy,” Richards told CNN’s David Axelrod. “The thought that we would actually flip and go backwards is just unthinkable.
“It’s not making women healthier,” she added. “It’s not even reducing abortion. It’s actually making women less safe.”
Obamacare ensures that people with pre-existing conditions receive coverage, which is one of the few aspects of the health care law that both Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wiconsin Republican, have said they want to keep in place.
But Democrats are concerned the protections for people with pre-existing conditions could get tossed aside as Republicans take an ax to Obamacare. This could have particularly negative impact on women, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Independent, said recently during a health care debate with GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
“Women are considered a pre-existing condition by the insurance companies, because they might have a baby,” Sanders said.
Child care and paid leave
But women’s groups are fighting for more than abortion rights and birth control. They also want equal pay, better access to child care, and paid leave to care for newborn children.
Trump has indicated he may cross the political aisle on some of these issues.
Spurred by his daughter, Ivanka, the president is pushing for six weeks of guaranteed paid leave from work for new mothers, but not fathers. Trump’s plan does not go as far as Hillary Clinton’s proposal, but it’s more than most Republicans would consider.
Trump is also pushing for a child care tax credit to make life easier for working families.
But Trump may run into resistance pushing these policies through the Republican-controlled Congress.
On the campaign trail, his daughter claimed women are paid equally at the Trump Organization, but the president has provided few details on any policies he might issue to address the perceived gender wage gap.
“He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this, too, right alongside of him,” she said.
But Trump’s effort on these issues may not be enough to calm the nerves of his most vocal female critics.