On Tuesday, President Donald Trump's administration revealed its first comprehensive budget proposal. The proposal suggests extensive funding cuts for many federal programs and agencies. The cuts proposed by Trump's budget could particularly negatively affect women in the United States, who seem to stand to lose the most should the changes suggested by the budget come to fruition.
Broadly, Trump's budget proposes massive cuts to a variety of social assistance programs and most federal agencies. It also proposes increased funding for departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs. As you can imagine, the impact of these proposed cuts could be especially detrimental for many Americans, particularly those who are low-income. Moreover, the cuts will have a disproportionately negative affect on American women.
First, Trump's proposed budget withholds all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, as well as any other organization that provides abortions. Planned Parenthood has never received federal funds for abortions, as federal law disallows it. However, Trump's budget proposes that federal funds used for cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and other reproductive health services, be stripped away from the organization completely, merely because of the fact that the organization also provide abortions in addition to these other crucial health services.
According to Mother Jones, in 2015, 43 percent of Planned Parenthood's revenue came from federal government grants and federal Medicaid reimbursement. Moreover, 60 percent of Planned Parenthood's patients, the vast majority of whom are women, rely on federal funds to pay for their care. If Trump's budget passes as-is, these women would likely have to find affordable reproductive healthcare elsewhere, something which would be incredibly challenging, to say the least.
In addition to the detrimental health effects Trump's proposed budget could have on women via cuts to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, women's health could also be severely impacted by Trump's proposed $800 billion cut to Medicaid. The Medicaid program funds health services for low-income adults as well as for children, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
Women are more likely than men to rely on Medicaid for both reproductive health services as well as long-term care. Indeed, according to Elle, women compose two-thirds of the adult population using Medicaid, as they are less likely to have jobs that include comprehensive insurance coverage and more likely to live longer, increasing the likelihood they will use Medicaid for long-term healthcare. Thus, a massive cut to Medicaid could substantially negatively affect thousands of women who would likely lose access to their healthcare.
Finally, Trump's budget proposal also suggests drastic cuts to food and nutrition assistance programs specifically meant to help women and children. According to Forbes, Trump's budget proposes substantial cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next 10 years, and, specifically, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, which stands to have its funds slashed by over a billion dollars. More than 7.8 million women and children relied on WIC benefits in 2016. Moreover, women are twice as likely to use food stamps than men.
Cuts to food stamp benefits would not only immediately harm women's, children's and families' well being; it would also inhibit girls' long-term success. According to Elle, women who receive assistance in the form of food stamps as children are more likely to be in an economically stable position as adults.
Overall, all Americans, but particularly low-income women, have a lot to lose if Trump's proposed budget were to become reality. One of very few promising prospects for women in Trump's budget consists of a requirement for six weeks of paid parental leave administered through the unemployment insurance system. However, while guaranteed paid parental leave would certainly assist women, the rest of Trump's budget does them an absolute disservice. Thankfully, the budget as it stands is unlikely to become law. However, the potential threats posed to women in any forthcoming revised budget remain very real.