“My Body, My Choice” echoed throughout the November 12 “Not My President” march in New York City, among other chants denouncing the president elect.
There are few demographics in the United States whose rights are not in jeopardy following Donald Trump’s presidential victory but women especially have a lot to fear. While many hoped that the President-elect would prove to be more moderate and that the inflammatory statements made during his vitriolic campaign were simply to galvanize his supporters, it seems that he is intent on cementing his promises to stand against abortion.
During his first official post-election interview on 60 Minutes Trump told CBS’ Lesley Stahl that he is standing firm on his pledge to support a Supreme Court justice who opposes abortion – an act that could eventually lead to the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that affirmed a woman’s right to abortion. Trump stated, “Having to do with abortion, if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states,” to which Stahl replied, “But then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?” Trump’s response: “Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.” This comes months after he stated that women who seek abortions should be subject to “some form of punishment.”
Trump’s actions surrounding abortion rights could effectively send us back sixty years – to a a time when doctors were forced to perform abortions in secret and in many dire cases, women died from attempting to do the procedure on themselves. When abortion laws are put to the state level, access to the procedure often becomes limited or non-existent. There are currently 31 states in the country that have some form of TRAP (Target Regulation of an Abortion Provider) law, making it incredibly difficult for women to get abortions. It was only June of this year that the Supreme Court threw out H.B.2., a 2013 TRAP law that imposed stringent regulations on abortion clinics in Texas. While this was a great victory for women’s rights it will be a short-lived success if Trump does indeed get to appoint his own pick for Supreme Court Justice, especially given the fact that the House of Representatives and the Senate are now controlled by a Republican majority.
Even scarier is that Vice President-elect Mike Pence is vehemently against abortion and women’s health in general. He once said that rape victims should not be allowed to have abortions, stating:
“We’d then have an epidemic of women claiming to have been raped just so they could have an abortion. And that has to be stopped at all cost…What if women would go out and get raped on purpose just so they could get off work?” -Vice President-elect, Mike Pence
In the past, Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, named Pence as the number one enemy of the organization, stating that “He’s the only one I know of who has been so completely obsessed with Planned Parenthood.” He supported a federal government shutdown in order to defund the organization and succeeded in cutting off funding in his own state of Indiana, which then led to an increase in the number of reported cases of HIV/AIDS as the organization was one of the few providers of HIV testing. As state governor he also signed a law into effect (that has since been blocked by federal court) that banned abortions sought for fetal abnormalities and would have required women to hold funerals for their aborted fetuses. He supported the “Protect Life Act,” which makes it legal for hospitals to deny abortions to women in life-threatening conditions and he cosponsored a bill that sought to differentiate types of rape so that federal funds would only be allowed for abortions in the case of “forcible rape.” To add insult to injury, he has gone on the record to say that “Condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases, and are “too modern.”
While it is easy to want to hide our heads under a pillow for the next four (or god forbid, eight) years, women and our allies must unite to fight against a presidency that will strip us of the right to make our own decisions concerning our health and wellbeing. Firstly, women must protect themselves as much as possible. If you are worried about future access to birth control, make a call to your local health clinic today in order to learn more about long-term birth control methods such as I.U.D.s.
Secondly, find ways to participate beyond sharing a post on your social media, whether that means volunteering at your local Planned Parenthood, donating to the organization in Pence’s name (see above), calling your local Congressman or Congresswoman, making art, or joining a local protest. Many have already begun to do this – since Wednesday night, large crowds all over the country have joined together to rally against Trump and Pence. A giant protest is being planned that will be held in Washington DC on the day of the presidential inauguration and one day afterwards, on January 21st, 2016, more than 100,000 people are projected to join together for the “Women’s March on Washington,” which will be followed by the “Nasty Women March on Washington” in April.
Watch this space for updates on all of the marches and never forget, “Women’s rights ARE human rights.”
-Jasmine Williams for The Untitled Magazine