When President Donald Trump signed a bill that lets states deny federal family-planning money to organizations that provide abortions, he did so away from the usual spotlight. Why?
You noticed there was no fanfare, right?
No great flourish as he signed a bill that would affect millions of Americans’ lives. No holding up the folder like a finished page in a coloring book, as has become his custom.
Instead, President Donald Trump was sure to tuck himself away in the Oval Office when he signed a bill that lets states deny federal family-planning money to Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortion services.
Curious, since Trump is a man who can’t resist the spotlight. Privacy isn’t really his thing. Nor is respecting the privacy of women — especially their private parts. (See “Access Hollywood bus” and “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”)
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So what makes this bill different from all the others Trump signed before the cameras?
I may be giving him too much credit here, but my guess is that Trump didn’t want us to watch as he made the lives of women nationwide much harder and more worrisome than they have been in decades.
This new bill, according to The New York Times, allows state and local governments to withhold “federal funding for family planning services related to contraception, sexually transmitted infections, fertility, pregnancy care, and breast and cervical cancer screening from qualified health providers — regardless of whether they also performed abortions.”
The bill nullifies a regulation that took effect just two days before Trump’s inauguration. That rule said that the only way states and local governments could withhold federal money from providers is if the facility was unable to provide family planning services. It also made denying federal funds to abortion providers illegal.
Christine Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, called this “the worst political attack on women’s health in a generation.”
More than 98,000 low-income men and women are served by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Washington state, she said.
“Fortunately, in Washington we have supportive legislators who are part of the resistance,” she said, “and will help fight back and ensure access to health care.”
Does Trump not do his research into the impact a $500 million shortfall will have on these clinics? Does he not understand that only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions and that federal law already prohibits government money from paying for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, or to save a woman’s life?
It’s built in already. Ain’t happening.
And yet, Trump and his conservative chuckleheads seem to think women are getting abortions with the nonchalance and frequency of a brow wax.
In truth, they are choosing to control their own lives and destinies.
Just so we’re clear, here are the most recent numbers: In 2014, 19 percent of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) ended in abortion. The rate in that same time period, 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, was the lowest ever observed in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research and policy agency focused on reproductive health.
But with one sweep of the pen, Trump made it clear it is all or nothing when it comes to women’s health. Perform abortions, and the federal government will not fund all the other things you do.
Many of those things are preventive — read: lifesaving — services. Cancer screening, family planning, pregnancy care, disease prevention and treatment.
And let’s not forget: People go to Planned Parenthood and clinics like it seeking fertility services. So while conservatives may be patting themselves on the back for going after abortion providers, they are also making it harder for people who need help getting pregnant.
At the same time, they are boosting the likelihood of unwanted, low-income children coming into the world. That means more kids on the welfare rolls, in the juvenile-justice and foster-care systems needing housing and food and scholarships.
It’s either take care of low-income women now, or take care of their children later.
It’s either pay for early screenings now, or pay for cancer and other treatments later.
For a man who made his name in business, this was one colossally bad move.
No wonder he did it behind closed doors.