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Historic Grassroots Movement Overshadows Trump and Congressional Efforts to Attack Health and Rights

Preview for What’s Ahead in 2018  

Washington D.C. - The first year of the 115th Congress and the Trump-Pence administration inspired a historic backlash across the country, according to a new report released today by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. The report, entitled “State of Women’s Health Policy,” details how each branch of government’s protracted focus on stripping basic health care and rights away from everyday Americans resulted in few 2017 accomplishments. Furthermore, the attacks gave rise to historic numbers of people across the country becoming politically active, protesting, contacting their members of Congress, running for office, and turning out at the ballot box — many for the first time. This backlash has not only halted key pieces of legislation, but is in fact changing the face of politics. View the full report here.  

The first session of the 115th Congress was marked by the failure of Trumpcare — brought down by monumental opposition to attacks on women’s health, which was led in part by Planned Parenthood’s growing army of 11 million supporters and coalition partners. In all of its forms, the legislation would have “defunded” Planned Parenthood and eliminated the guarantee of maternity coverage for millions. The year was also marked by a number of moves to take away women’s rights and access to health care by the Trump-Pence administration that undermined access to birth control, placed additional systemic burdens on women of color and women with low-incomes, removed protections for victims of sexual harassment and assault, eliminated protections for LGBTQ people, and even prohibited young, immigrant women in detention from accessing their constitutional right to safe, legal abortion.

Already, the backlash to these actions has ushered in unexpected electoral victories in Virginia, in state houses across the country, and in Doug Jones’s (D-AL) election to the U.S. Senate — a shift that means anti-women’s health members of Congress no longer have the votes to “defund” Planned Parenthood or pass other bills that would control women’s bodies and health care. Looking to 2018, Planned Parenthood does not expect the Trump-Pence administration and anti-women’s health legislators to learn. Instead, early indications show that they plan to double down on their efforts to undermine women’s health, going after Title X, the nation’s family planning program, as well as Medicaid and youth-focused sex education programs. The grassroots backlash to their actions will continue to grow.

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

One year ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan promised that he would ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood and repeal health care for millions of Americans. Twelve months later, all anti-women’s health politicians have succeeded in doing is sparking women to revolt. Congress spent so much time attacking women’s health care in 2017 that it failed to get just about anything else done. The Trump-Pence administration has been so focused on using its power to try and control women’s bodies and take away their rights that it’s one of the lowest-rated administrations in history. In the 12 months since Trump took office, fueled by the unrelenting assault on women’s rights by this administration and Congress, women have been organizing and agitating in record numbers. The more they attack, the stronger this movement becomes. Women will settle for nothing less than full equality — in their homes, in their workplaces, and in the halls of Congress. At Planned Parenthood, we will never stop fighting for our patients and our values. And with 11 million supporters standing with us, we sure won’t lose.

The report outlines that as Congress kicks off the 2018 legislative session, anti-women’s health majorities in the House and Senate and the Trump-Pence administration are signaling they will continue their assault on women’s health and rights in new and unprecedented ways. Five key things to look for in 2018:  

  1. Attacks on care at Planned Parenthood health centers will mostly shift from Congress to direct actions from the Trump-Pence administration. 
  2. Efforts to undermine reproductive health access for women worldwide will continue through attempts to legislatively codify or further expand the global gag rule and slash funding for international family planning programs.
  3. Essential safety-net programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are on the menu in 2018.
  4. Opponents of abortion will advance abortion bans, despite the small chance of passing any into law. 
  5. In 2018, Planned Parenthood is expanding its existing volunteer programs with7 planned trainings across the country.

The also report outlines five notable trends in reproductive health policy in 2017: 

  1. Congress spent most of 2017 pursuing legislation to “defund” Planned Parenthood and failed due to tremendous grassroots organizing and resistance. Trumpcare, in each if its iterations, was the worst bill for women’s health in a generation and would have blocked millions from accessing birth control, cancer screenings, and other basic health care at Planned Parenthood health centers, eliminated protections for the millions with pre-existing conditions, eliminated the guarantee of maternity coverage, and newborn care, and allowed insurers to discriminate against women. Due to the monumental opposition to these proposals, led in part by Planned Parenthood’s growing army of 11 million supporters, the various iterations of Trumpcare failed to pass in Congress. The failed efforts by congressional leadership engaged millions of people around the country ahead of the 2018 elections.
  2. At a moment of unprecedented progress, the actions of the Trump-Pence administration threaten that progress. The United States is experiencing a 30-year low in the rate of unintended pregnancies; an all-time low in the rate of unintended teen pregnancy; and the lowest rate of abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided, as a result of increased access to effective and affordable birth control. Around the world, new HIV diagnoses have declined significantly among adolescent girls and young women in 10 African countries thanks to targeted investments in comprehensive, evidence-based prevention programs. Unfortunately, in order to advance its ideological agenda, the Trump-Pence administration has made policy decisions that will move health care backwards — and is poised to adopt more in 2018.
  3. The Trump-Pence administration has appointed anti-women’s health nominees to key positions who, unchecked, will continue to advance harmful agendas in 2018. The administration is stacked with officials who do not believe in and oppose the use of birth control; who have regularly touted scientifically and medically inaccurate information; and have made clear they fundamentally oppose women’s health care and care for LGBTQ individuals. These nominees have already made clear that they will pursue an ideological agenda at all costs — like unconstitutionally blocking young immigrant women from accessing safe, legal abortion; encouraging abstinence-only programs; and targeting more than 62 million women’s access to birth control coverage.
  4. The Trump-Pence administration dangerously tried to ban language and erase LGBTQ identities in 2017. In December 2017, in an unprecedented and dangerous move, the Trump-Pence administration prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using seven key words and phrases: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Additionally, in March 2017, HHS began to eliminate questions on certain surveys related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Eliminating data collection on LGBTQ people enables the Department’s unequal treatment for health disparities toward this population. These actions paint a stark picture of this administration’s intent to control language as well as combat evidence and science, and illustrate its agenda for the year to come.
  5. Anti-women’s health members of Congress lost ground in 2017, but continue to push their extreme agenda. There was a decrease in the number of anti-women’s health members of Congress in the 115th Congress compared to the prior Congress, and during the course of the year, particularly in the Senate, passage of anti-women’s health legislation became less likely. But extreme members of Congress continued to introduce harmful legislation and dangerous policy riders to various budget and tax bills in 2017.   

View the full report at https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/StateOfWomensHealth.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.