9 Essential Women's Rights Protections You Could Lose By The End Of This Year
If you feel like there's plenty to worry about in the current political climate, you're not alone. For many women, America's political climate has felt particularly fraught, and the year isn't over yet. There are a whole bunch of things that women could lose in 2017, from reproductive rights to crucial protections. Observers on the left have long warned that a potential Trump presidency could be bad for women — and, for many women, those guesses are turning out to be correct.
It can't be said enough that women have not yet lost the items on this list, and there's still time to push back. The American people and the country's democratic systems have so far largely withstood — or at least attempted to withstand — the multiple onslaughts the Trump administration has tried to push forward.
Along with these developments, this administration has also been challenged by an unprecedented extent of political engagement from regular Americans who now make it a point to call and write to their elected officials and attend protests. Some are going even farther and planning to run for office. The point is, don't read this list and be discouraged — read this list and be inspired to keep fighting back, and keep fighting hard.
More Abortion Rights
Trump kicked off his crusade against abortion with the nomination of likely anti-choice Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, but this assault on women's rights is likely to continue. The president endeavors to put anti-choice judges on federal courts across the country, who could gradually undermine the legal protections that women have had since the Roe v. Wade decision. And with conservative activists always looking for potential cases to attack that landmark ruling, women could find their access to abortion even more limited at any time.
In Trump's first budget proposal released in March, one of the programs slated for a significant cut was the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). By providing food vouchers and nutrition information to low-income women and their babies and young children, this program attempts to limit infant and maternal mortality.
The program has had some important effects over its decades-long history, but recent cuts have limited what it's been able to do, and, importantly, stopped it from expanding. Programs like this are especially important because women are still more likely to be poor than men, and having access to healthy food can make a huge difference in their health and the health of their children.
The Right To Work, In Some Cases
This is a very specific case, but it could prevent thousands of women from being able to work in the U.S. The Trump administration wants to limit H-1B visas, which allow skilled workers to come work at American companies — and to bring their families along. One strategy of their clampdown, however, is potentially taking away H-1B recipients' spouses' right to work.
This would predominantly affect women, many of whom are highly skilled workers as well. This move isn't only bad for the female spouses of H-1B visa recipients, however — it also hurts the American economy by taking away an incentive for these highly skilled workers to even come to the country.
The "America First Budget Blueprint," released by the Trump administration back in March, aims to cut an already stretched child care assistance program, which would disproportionately affect women. The Trump budget would provide more assistance to the people who need it the least, which then leaves millions of low-income families even more vulnerable. When families don't have access to childcare, the women in those families end up finding their jobs threatened, and, thus, their families in even more serious financial circumstances.
Planned Parenthood's Services
While Republicans have failed in their latest efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, this is another ongoing conservative crusade. Although Planned Parenthood doesn't just provide services to women, it's the only place that some women can go for their important reproductive health care. There isn't any major talk now about defunding it, but that doesn't mean that you can rest easy.
Trump still wants to repeal Obamacare, and the plans put forward so far haven't been kind to expecting mothers. Of course it's bad for all of society to stop mandating that health care plans cover maternity care, but that was somehow an actual point that made it into the original version of the Republican Obamacare replacement.
Again, even though Congress isn't actively working on another bill to repeal Obamacare, they could get back to it at any moment.
Access To Contraception
Despite their inability to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump administration is still pushing forward on a plan to limit women's access to contraception. There's currently a federal regulation in place that requires employer health care to include preventative services like contraception, but a new guideline could change that to allow any organization, religious or not, to request an exemption to that rule.
If their employers take advantage of that one little change, millions of women could be forced to buy their own birth control — or leave themselves at risk of unplanned pregnancies.
A Place To Report Domestic Violence
Trump's proposed cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services could have one very specific and very devastating result — cutting the ability of the National Domestic Violence Hotline to take all the calls it receives.
Millions of victims of domestic violence — not all of whom are women, of course, though most are — have taken advantage of this service to help them out of extremely dangerous situations. Trump's proposed cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services amount to 18 percent, and if the hotline lost 20 percent of its funding, 200,000 calls would be forced to go unanswered.
Sexual Assault Protections
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in particular indicated that she would go in a different direction than the Obama administration, which sought to seriously crack down on sexual assault on college campuses. In an alarming turn for victims of sexual assault, DeVos has expressed more support for those accused of sexual assault — even though falsely reported sexual assault is extremely uncommon.
Several of these potential losses are based on mere proposals or bills that have so far failed to make it through Congress, but the fact that they were even up for discussion means that you have to be ready to fight them. This, apparently, is some of what the Trump administration aims to accomplish before they leave office.