As several state and federal bills that seek to gut or reverse Roe v. Wade could make their way to the Supreme Court, the Trump administration is taking other aggressive and legally suspect actions to curtail the constitutional right to have an abortion. Some are straight forward, while some are more nuanced. We must stay vigilant and fight all these efforts.
With two anniversaries, coming together – the 45th anniversary of the Roe, and the first year of the Trump presidency – let us review the main ways in which this administration is seeking to impede individuals’ access to abortion.
The first attempt took place as soon as Trump stepped in office, when he issued an executive order that bans federal funding to international non-governmental organizations that perform, provide information, or refer to other organizations that offer abortion services. While in theory this order only relates to foreign aid, it immediately signaled the administration’s repudiation towards abortion access. Other executive orders made it clear that impeding access to abortion would be a priority for this administration. A couple of months later, in April of 2017, Trump signed an executive order that allows states to cut Title X funding, the nation’s family planning program, to reproductive health care providers if they offer abortion services.
There are also more subtle, yet equally damaging actions. Last week, in two back-to-back decisions, the Trump administration pretty much allowed any person working in the medical industry to block patients’ access to reproductive health services, including abortion. First, the Trump administration created a new office housed in the Office for Civil rights with the sole mission to allow health care providers to cite their religious and moral beliefs in denying comprehensive health care to women and LGBTQ people. Like my colleague Susan Berke Fogel explains, this office will be used as “a tool to discriminate against women, LGBTQ people, and all individuals trying to access health care.
The following day, the administration issued a proposed rule that encourages health care providers and those who work with them to discriminate in whom they treat and the services that they provide. This measure allows hospitals, doctors, nurses, and their staff to determine a patient’s care based on their religious beliefs, and not on what is medically sound and in the best interest of the patient. This proposed rule is completely out of bounds since health care providers should not be allowed to shame women for their personal health decisions. Not only is this morally wrong, it places women in danger when hospitals refuse abortion care. Hospitals have already refused to treat or refer someone who needs immediate health care, including abortions.
With these two decisions, it is undeniable that individuals will lose access to critical health care, including abortion. On the Roe anniversary, let us remember that women have the constitutional right to make a personal decision about their health, and recommit ourselves to standing in support of that vital right against the onslaught of attacks from Trump and his allies in Congress and the states.