By Courtney Snavely
Historically, women have faced perpetual stigmatization and undervaluing of their healthcare. If you’re like me, the daily onslaught of demoralizing headlines can be overwhelming and make you feel powerless when it comes to your own body.
Here at Ovee, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest changes (or proposed changes) to women’s healthcare, what this means for you, and how you can help give women more agency over their health.
Justice Kennedy announces his retirement
Yes, supreme court justices retire so why is this such a big deal? Generally speaking the incumbent president chooses the next Supreme Court justice (unless you’re Obama and get snubbed). This means President Trump will get to choose another Justice, in addition to Judge Neil M. Gorsuch who he appointed in 2017.
What this means…
The Supreme court will swing conservative, threatening to overturn a lot of well established rulings including Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion nation wide in 1973. While it is still unclear whether or not Roe v. Wade will be completely overturned, there is a strong possibility the standing could be weakened including shorter and shorter term limits for women to access abortions.
Rollbacks on the birth control mandate
The Department of Health and Human Services reversed a federal requirement that employers must include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, including an exemption to any employer that objects on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions.
What this means for you…
Your employer could decide to not cover your contraception if they claim it goes against their sincere religious or moral beliefs (in my opinion this is extremely subjective). Under these new regulations, hundreds of thousands of women could lose access to birth control without co-payments.
Health and Human Services attempts to cut funding to Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Trump proposed a 2018 budget that would eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and re-allocate funds to abstinence only education in it’s place, despite the evidence that states with abstinence only education have continuously higher rates of teen pregnancy and “often fail to change teenage sexual behavior.”
In April of 2018, a second federal court ruled that the Trump administration could not terminate the TPPP grants two years before the scheduled date. However, there is a greater monetary incentives for programs that emphasize abstinence and sexual risk avoidance (another convoluted term for abstinence).
The Global Gag Rule
What does this mean? Foreign non-governmental organizations that receive US global health assistance must certify not only that they are NOT using US funds but also their own private NON-US funds to:
provide abortion services,
counsel patients about the option of abortion or refer them for abortion, or
advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws.
In other words, organizations that receive any sort of US funding cannot provide abortions, talk about abortions, or advocate for abortion even if they do so with their own money.
Our own domestic gag rule
Basically like the global gag rule but for the U.S. Lucky us.
The trump administration is considering a rule that would force providers to stop even mentioning abortion with their patients or risk losing Title X funding.
What this means for you…
If you’re considering an abortion, your doctor might not be able to discuss abortion with you, perform the abortion, or even point you in the right direction of where to get the procedure done.
Administration plans to strip Title X funds from abortion providers
Clinics that provide abortions or even provide referrals for where women can get an abortion are at risk of losing government funding.
This would be a crippling blow to Planned Parenthood, which relies on government grants for 40 percent of their budget.
What this means for you…
If you rely on medicaid, you are going to have a really difficult time finding a provider.
“There simply aren’t enough reproductive health care providers out there to pick up the slack for the care Planned Parenthood centers provide. Per year, Planned Parenthood health centers provide birth control for nearly 2 million people, as well as over 4.2 million STD tests and treatments; over 320,000 breast exams; and nearly 295,000 Pap tests.” — Planned Parenthood site
What you can do to help
Help support planned parenthood by joining the Planned Parenthood action fund here.
[ READ MORE: CURIOUS ABOUT SEX EDUCATION IN THE SOUTH? ]
"Healthy" Texas Women
Concrete proof that all of this proposed legislation is a bad idea.
In 2011, the state of Texas forced Planned Parenthood out of the Women’s Health Program, ironically renamed “Healthy Texas Women.” The result? Over 45,000 less women are receiving healthcare, reduced access to contraception, and increased rates of birth funded by medicaid.
Not to mention the program website is riddled with errors.
"The program’s “Find a Doctor” tool lists numerous health care providers across the state that don’t actually participate in the program, making it more difficult for women to find physicians who do. In addition, some of the providers are repeats, and several numbers direct callers to offices that don’t provide women’s health care services at all." —Stephanie Kuo, Kera News
How can I help?
With so many problems, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed but it’s important that as women (or men #heForShe) we all band together. Here are some actionable things that you can do today defend women’s healthcare rights:
Get involved with the National Women’s Health Network
Donate feminine hygiene products to your local food banks. Here is one for NYC
Donate to NARAL to protect women’s pro-choice rights
Become a clinic defender and escort women to help them feel safe and not alone
Participate in one of the National Organization for Women campaigns
Volunteer with the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) hotline
Become an Ovee ambassador. Email us to help spread sexual and reproductive health education in your local neighborhood or university
Want to share more about what’s going on with women’s health?
Have a cause that needs more action? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!