By Stacy Sullivan
On October 7, 2016, when the Hollywood Access tape was released featuring the man who is now our president bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, Donald Trump dismissed it as “locker room banter,” and claimed it was no reflection of how he actually felt about women.
“I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” he said following the release. “I’ve said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women. And women have respect for me.”
A great many people gave Trump the benefit of doubt — indeed the majority of white women voted for him. But yesterday, by signing an executive order purported to protect religious liberty and working to revoke part of the Affordable Care Act with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the president made it exceedingly clear that his administration does not respect women.
The right to decide when and whether to have a family is fundamental to women’s equality in the workforce and society. Birth control and the right to abortion enable women to plan whether and when to have children, to pursue education and careers. This is how we are empowered to lead full and healthy lives.
Yesterday’s executive order on religious exemptions signaled to employers that the government may say that if they object to birth control on religious grounds, they can deny contraceptive coverage as part of the healthcare plans for employees. This, coupled with the House’s repeal of part of the Affordable Care Act, could simultaneously limit women’s access to contraception and abortion, forcing many women into motherhood against their will.
If this sounds like a bad idea, wait, because it gets worse. In addition to taking away access to birth control coverage and potentially forcing women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, Trump’s proposed health care bill would then further punish women by allowing insurance companies to deny maternity and newborn care in their insurance plans.
That’s right. Trumpcare, combined with his executive order, could make it okay to deny women contraception coverage, abortion coverage, maternity coverage, and newborn care coverage.
Yes, it sounds like a misogynistic plot from the Handmaid’s Tale. But wait, it gets crueler. It turns out Trumpcare essentially makes being a woman a pre-existing condition.
The bill allows states to waive protections for pre-existing conditions and allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more for their coverage. These could include pregnancy, C-sections, breast cancer and even treatment for domestic violence and sexual assault. (This is particularly rich, considering this president doesn’t believe grabbing a woman by the genitals is sexual assault.)
And just when you thought the Trump administration had reached the apex of cruelty, there’s more.
Another provision of the new healthcare bill would require new moms to find a job within 60 days of having a baby or lose their health insurance. (The bill makes an exception for mothers if their child has a disability or they’re an only parent or they care for a child under the age of 6.) Sixty days after giving birth, most new mothers are still adjusting, may still need time to recover from childbirth, and may even face health challenges.
We simply can’t allow this to happen. So women, to the millions of you who turned out in pussy hats to protest the day after the inauguration, contact your senators. The House passed the bill, but the Senate can kill it or fix it. So tell your senator to vote against Trumpcare.
We cannot go quietly back to the 1950s.