A few days after taking office, Donald Trump delivered a jolting blow to international women’s health services with an executive order to revive the Global Gag Rule, a creation from the Reagan years that will effectively slash U.S. federal funding to every global health assistance agency. The unmistakable goal of this action is to block such funds from every non-government organization that either supports abortion-related services (basically, counseling or referrals) or provides such services, drastically impacting women on every continent. Tellingly, Trump signed this law in the Oval Office while surrounded by white men.
This farce easily embodies the greatest set of challenges that America has known for reproductive rights in over 40 years. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade and further cemented this decision through 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which outlawed any “undue burden” from a state on abortion access. Still, the war between pro-choice and pro-life folks has persisted. Why? Many current lawmakers do not trust women to make choices for themselves and their families. And following the election of Trump and Mike Pence, the U.S. grew ever more hostile towards the right to choose.
Ironically, all of this is happening while the Catholic church is doing what folks never expected by somewhat loosening its own stance on abortion by allowing priests to forgive the “grave sin.” The United States, on the other hand, appears to be regressing back to the 1960s.
Trump And Pence’s Distressing History
Over the decades, Donald Trump’s stance on abortion has dramatically wavered, although he managed to largely communicate a pro-life position throughout his campaign. During the final election debate, he seemingly solidified his stance while appearing confused on the Supreme Court’s role. When Chris Wallace asked him if he would like to see Roe v. Wade be overturned, Trump responded, “I am putting pro-life justices on the court.” He’s hoping for 2-3 new ones, which he says will “automatically” reverse Roe, and “It will go back to the states.”
That’s not exactly how things would work, but Trump isn’t a details guy. He’s into tough proclamations. Trump has no policy background, but he knows what he wants … right now. Unfortunately, what he wants at this moment could adversely impact that lives of millions of women. Assuming he doesn’t change his mind again.
Mike Pence’s history, on the other hand, reveals a long-standing, hard right, pro-life stance, which led to strict abortion laws being implemented in Indiana while he served as governor, including the institution of several hoops for women to jump through, including requiring multiple clinic visits and exposure to anti-abortion literature. Pence also approved increased demands on clinics, which forced several of them to shutter, leaving barely any providers in the state. As governor, he made it extremely difficult to gain an early clinic-based abortion and illegal to do so after the window closed and banned private insurance from covering the procedure.
And that’s not all. Pence, a born-again evangelical Christian, signed a controversial law that would have banned abortions in the case of fetal abnormalities. A federal judge ended up blocking the law after Planned Parenthood asked for an injunction. The court’s reasoning was “that the state does not have the authority to limit a woman’s reasons for ending a pregnancy.” But that pushback won’t stop Pence from doing everything he can to fulfill his promise to Trump voters: To relegate Roe back “to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”