By Diane Meers
Millions of women, men and children marched in unprecedented numbers in cities around the world on January 21st, the day following the inauguration on Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. The following Monday, the unfazed President sprung into action signing 3 memorandums, one of which sets an ominous tone for what else may come in regards to women’s rights under his command. Let’s first visit the historical loop that is the revival of The Mexico City Policy.
We can thank the Reagan administration for this policy, which is also dubbed the “Global Gag Rule.” It was put in place 33 years ago but rescinded when Bill Clinton became president in 1993. Then it was immediately reversed by Republicans under George W. Bush, and revoked yet again by Democrats as soon as Barack Obama came into office in 2009. See the pattern? The reinstating of this memorandum seems like a mandatory first step for a Republican taking on the Presidency.
It is nevertheless a hard pill to swallow. And for many women beyond our borders the availability of the birth control and contraceptives will dwindle, along with HIV care, safe abortion services, referrals and reproductive education. The conversation inevitably becomes broader as we are left with one main question: where are women’s rights headed?
I recently spoke with Frank Cerutti, a highly esteemed professor of history and a champion of public education, to help us navigate:
The most talked about scenario is Roe v. Wade being overturned under a Trump administration. Some critics argue that it would be very unlikely. Can we be sure?
Overturning a Constitutional Amendment is unlikely. But there are plenty of other obstructionist measures which Pence/Trump will attempt and are already putting in place. The Federal position is to leave it up the states, so it will likely become much more difficult for women to have safe access to health care in some states, while California and New York will likely not change.
Reducing abortion rights to each state is a pro-life stance and Trump is quoted as saying, “They’ll perhaps have to go…to another state.” Isn’t this an attack on financially lower middle class and lower class women?
Yes. Reducing funding or access to health care, Planned Parenthood, head start daycare and the like is always an attack on the working class.
While in congress, Mike Pence voted against ‘Equal Pay for Women’ and as Indiana Governor, he was responsible for defunding Planned Parenthood (causing several clinics to shutdown.) Was he put in place as Trump’s running mate to simply appeal to neo-con voters, or should we be really fearful of this kind of track record and the influence he will bring?
Honestly, I do not foresee Trump making it through all four years, whether due to his own greed and narcissism or from the threat of impeachment. In that case we would be looking at President Pence and Vice President Paul Ryan, and yes we should all be very fearful of such a prospect.
How vulnerable are we to a shifting right-wing Supreme Court?
That will take longer. We need Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and the other liberal justices to remain healthy! Trump will fill the late Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat, but after that, there are no retiring judges. The Supreme Court is a patient game, you have to just wait it out. And even then, sometimes a justice does not turn out to be as liberal or conservative as we think they will be.
With Ivanka Trump stepping into the foreground, as “First Daughter,” how much of an influence do you think she may have in protecting women’s rights?
Zilch. Zero. Nada. Her husband Jared Kushner is the one to keep an eye on.
Trump has suggested a, “six-week paid maternity leave.” Reducing and eliminating, “unemployment insurance fraud” is supposed to fund this plan. Should we be skeptical of this source for funding?
It would solely depend on the details. So far this President has been all talk, all concept and no specific details. Sure, Hillary was a policy wonk who some say failed to connect with a percentage of voters. But she knew the details. As with all things Trump, his words are never to be trusted or taken at face value, he relies on “Alternative Facts” too much. So when a specific plan is unveiled, that will be the time to dissect its funding. But my guess is that this too will fall short and go unfunded by the private sector.
In a time when women’s rights were in need of reform under Obama, it seems Trump and his administration are poised to take us back to Reagan-era politics. The screeching halt to the progressive agenda has been heard as far as Prague, South Africa and even the Antarctic, with many countries joining in solidarity marches on January 21st.
With the World watching, Americans are urged to write to their Senators and Representatives and continue the allied movement ignited by anti-war protests of the Bush-era to what became Occupy Wall Street and which we are now seeing a similar spirit in the Women’s March. The March organizers are capitalizing on what galvanized in that single day by released their “10 actions for the first 100 Days.” manifesto to ensure the march was simply the beginning, not the end, of the resistance.
Women’s rights are human rights that address a broad set of issues, including Climate Change, which the scientific community is stepping up the fight for and organizing their own march on Washington in the wake of the Women’s March. The unifying notion is clear, we must sustain the movement to limit corporate influence and get back on the progressive path.
This article and interview was written and conducted by Diane Meers. Diane is a former pageant title holder, Miss Washington 2013. She is an admitted USC graduate student in the areas of Social Policy and Macro Social Work. Connect with Diane via email@example.com.