The Trump administration has made it clear that it, along with the Republican Congress, will do everything possible to bring an end to abortion. Consider the omens: one of Trump’s first executive orders was to stop funding for overseas medical facilities that even mention abortion as an option. His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, referred to Roe v. Wade as “one of the worst, colossally erroneous Supreme Court decisions of all time.” The new Congress is poised to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health care services in the United States—which includes cancer screening and contraception as well as abortions. As governor of Indiana, Vice President Pence signed one of the most restrictive of the state abortion laws. “I long for the day,” he has said, “that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.” If Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s addition to the Supreme Court, is in agreement, which is likely, Roe v. Wade could be overturned or further eroded if a relevant case comes before the Court.
In the past half-century, women have made giant strides toward equality, and there is no question that a major reason is the availability of reliable contraception and safe and legal abortions. Women now earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men and are closing the income gap (from 58 cents to a man’s dollar in 1968 to 78 cents in 2013). But they have not reached parity, and there is still a glass ceiling. Moreover, further progress is not inevitable, and change does not move in only one direction. We can go backward as well as forward—something Iranian women experienced in 1979, and Afghan women in the 1990s. It will take awareness of the fragility of progress, as well as political action, to stop the Trump administration from turning back the clock.
[category: global, reproductive rights]