Five major things Trump has done to roll back women’s rights

Within his first 100 days in office, the president gutted funding for United Nations Population Fund

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Friday 06 March 2020 15:56
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President Donald Trump has boasted he’s a champion for all women.

“I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” Mr Trump said after the Access Hollywood tape was released in 2016 saying he wanted to “grab them by the p****”.

His mantra of having “great respect” for women has been repeated throughout his nearly four-year presidency, but the policies enacted by the Trump administration tell a different story.

With International Women’s Day on 8 March, The Independent has rounded up five things Mr Trump and his administration has done to roll back women’s rights.

Cutting international funding for women’s rights and reproductive health

Within the first 100 days of Mr Trump in office, his administration gutted funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides family planning and reproductive services to more than 150 countries globally.

The administration refused to provide funding under the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, which blocks US aid to any organisation the US president determines is involved in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. Funding was blocked for the UNFPA in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

To date, there has been no evidence to show the UNFPA supports coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. Also, the fund does not promote abortion in its family planning services or provide abortion services.

Instead, the UNFPA works to expand access to contraception to women around the world. It also works to combat maternal mortality, obstetric fistula, female genital mutilation, and HIV/AIDS.

Funding from the US in 2016 alone, which was $69m (£53m), helped UNFPA provide 800,000 women worldwide with contraception and prevent 100,000 unsafe abortions.

Blocking laws that promote equal pay in the workplace

The Trump administration is currently working to repeal an executive order made by President Barack Obama that forces large companies of 100 employees or more to report the wages they pay their employees.

Under the executive order, these companies have to submit data to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission every year that shows their workers income based on race and gender. Companies already keep this data, but they have to disclose the information under the rule so the gender income gap can be accurately recorded.

In 2017, Mr Trump quietly reversed the ruling made by the former president and blocked income data collection for companies. The reasoning? The administration believed it was “unnecessarily burdensome” on the companies.

Organisations like the National Women’s Law Centre sued the administration, and a federal judge decided in March 2019 the Trump administration broke the law when it stopped income data collection. His administration has since appealed the ruling and it is waiting to be decided by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Inability to appoint women to his administration

Mr Trump might have “great respect” for women, but he doesn’t show it with his appointees.

Only three women hold cabinet positions in the Trump administration of the 23 spots available, making it the lowest number of females holding appointments in the White House at the same time since George H W Bush’s presidency.

The Trump administration also quietly disbanded the White House Council on Women and Girls in 2017. The council was created by Mr Obama to ensure each of the agencies they’re charged with looks into the needs of women and girls when policies are drafted.

Former White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks said at the time the administration was looking at how different agencies could be made to be “additive, not redundant” to the White House. Nothing relating to gender inequality has since replaced the agency after it was disbanded.

Censored important words and terminology from government agencies

The White House has asked different governmental agencies to change its verbiage and information relating to women’s health.

During the first year of Mr Trump’s presidency, he asked the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to omit forbidden words – which included foetus, evidence-based, transgender, and diversity – from the agency’s budget.

The US Department of State also stripped its annual human rights report from featuring any mentions of reproductive or sexual rights.

Other governmental agencies and websites followed in suit by removing similar mentions on their own page, like the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deleting lesbian and bisexual women’s resources from its women’s health website. The HHS also removed mentions of contraception, abortion, and sex education from its documents.

Dismantling reproductive health services available for women

Mr Trump made it clear when running for president that he would nominate a Supreme Court justice who would help overturn Roe v Wade, a ruling protecting a pregnant woman’s right to have an abortion with few governmental restrictions.

His nomination last year of Justice Brett Kavanaugh gives the conservatives a five-to-four majority on the bench, allowing the possibility for the ruling to eventually be overturned.

But the president has also been a consistent proponent against organisations like Planned Parenthood because it supports pro-choice. Even though Planned Parenthood’s funding goes largely towards services outside of providing abortions, the administration has blocked money for the organisation.

Significant changes were also made to the federal Title X family planning program. Federal funds will no longer towards family planning providers that offer abortion services.

The regulations also prohibit these Title X clinics from referring pregnant women to alternative locations for abortion services. Title X clinics are also no longer legally required to provide counselling that includes information about prenatal care, delivery, adoption and abortion.

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