Now that the one-hundred day mark of Trump’s presidency has passed, we can reflect upon the myriad of executive orders and late-night votes on bills in Congress that have the potential to radically change the legislative landscape of the US. The fear many had on election night that a sexist president and a conservative Congress would worsen lives for all marginalized groups has materialized. Most particularly, the passage of a new version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that makes pregnancy a pre-existing condition, amongst many others, will put more women at risk. While the bill has only passed through the House and most likely will not pass through Senate in its current form, the Senate’s working committee on the bill is an all white male cast who are not likely to represent the needs of women or any other marginalized group. It has become painfully clear that being a female (or anything other than a wealthy white male) will be incredibly difficult in Trump’s America.
A bill written and passed by an overwhelmingly male majority with a clear voting pattern along party lines, the AHCA would dismantle Obamacare to deny healthcare to millions of American women. The bill is fraught with misogyny and transphobia—under the AHCA, insurers could charge Americans more for pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, the term “pre-existing conditions” has spiraled out of control in the AHCA. This seemingly innocuous term now covers everything from pregnancy to being transgender. While this is still a possibility, there is no stopping for insurers to cut many of the most basic cares for women out of the insurance packages, while simultaneously increasing the premiums, making healthcare even more unaffordable.
The AHCA would also partially defund Planned Parenthood, as well as prohibit clients from using Medicaid at Planned Parenthood clinics. In 2015, 43% of Planned Parenthood’s total revenue came from government funding. Though the AHCA also takes a strong stance on abortion, it is important to remember that the vast majority of what Planned Parenthood does is in no way related to abortion. Even under Obamacare, none of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding go to fund abortions. The AHCA would take away funding that is specifically going to non-abortion medical services, including contraception, medical testing, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Planned Parenthood is also notably accessible to LGBTQ+ patients, and therefore is able to provide comprehensive healthcare to the queer community in ways that other medical centers fail. To remove government funding would make it very difficult for Planned Parenthood to continue providing healthcare services, particularly to the low-income and disadvantaged patients who need it the most.
While the AHCA would make it both more difficult and more expensive for women to get an abortion if passed and signed into law, it would also increase the rate and decrease the safety of abortions. Because the AHCA proposes that low-income patients cannot use Medicaid for contraception, more women will be denied birth control. Without affordable or subsidized access to birth control, more women will have unwanted or unsafe pregnancies. In many areas of the country, Planned Parenthood is the only abortion provider available to women. With the defunding of Planned Parenthood, no safe abortion provider would be available, and women would be forced to turn to unsafe, unsterile, and even deadly attempts at abortion. If the writers of the AHCA were truly committed to reducing abortion rates, they would allow federally-funded birth control. Birth control and abortion are issues that affect women the most; by making these less accessible, the Trump administration is specifically targeting women.
Since the bill has not passed through the Senate, and most likely will not pass in its current form as it has passed through the House, all such damage is still a possibility. However, looking at the sheer determination with which Republicans are strong-arming the bill through Congress, the threat of an affordable and anti-women healthcare is very real and imminent.