Predictably pandering to their base, the Trump administration released regulations on October 6 that will allow employers to exclude some or all contraceptive methods from their employees’ healthcare coverage based on “religious beliefs and moral convictions.” If those moral convictions are anything like resigning U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s, they’re purely performative.
Known for his anti-abortion stance, Pennsylvania Republican Murphy stated: “In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing. I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.” The personal difficulties alluded to? An extramarital affair that ended with Murphy urging his mistress to terminate a pregnancy.
The hypocrisy of this anti-choice politician is further compounded by his asking for “privacy,” something women aren’t afforded when it comes to decisions that should be left to them and their healthcare providers. On the topic of abortion providers, their numbers continue to decrease as clinics close across the country due to lack of funding and laws that unnecessarily force abortion clinics to meet architectural, equipment, and staffing standards that match outpatient surgical centers.
These moves to deny women comprehensive healthcare do not in fact decrease abortion rates. A study conducted by Washington University showed that access to free birth control significantly reduced unplanned pregnancies, resulting in a 62-78 percent decrease in abortions. Nor are these attacks on abortion rights and birth control being made with the health and protection of children in mind, as evidenced by Congress allowing the Children’s Health Insurance Program to expire, removing coverage from over 9 million children.
These attacks on women’s reproductive health are simply more of the same from an oppressive class that knows the most heavily impacted by these restrictions are poor women, and especially women of color. Access to reliable means of preventing and if desired, terminating unwanted pregnancies is a necessary though not sufficient condition for women to fully participate in society. The politicians who are spearheading these policies are fully aware that “abstinence only” education is a failure, with studies reporting that 80 percent of Evangelical Christians, the same base that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, have premarital sex.
The hypocrisy inherent in continuing to pretend that people have sex solely for the purpose of procreation would be comical if it weren’t for it having such dangerous consequences. Sexually transmitted infections and diseases spread more widely and quickly when education is as lacking as healthcare coverage, and pregnancy terminations do not stop when access to birth control and legal abortion are removed. What does happen is a return to what took place before Roe V. Wade granted women the right to make their own personal healthcare decisions – women resort to the dangerous illegal abortions that previously accounted for an estimated 1/6 of pregnancy related deaths.
What the Trump administration seeks to do is further remove women’s autonomy and consent. It is important to note that while this happens, the Democratic Party has said they will not withhold financial support from candidates who oppose abortion rights, stating on the record, “There is no litmus test for Democratic candidates.” This willingness to compromise on women’s rights reminds us that our liberation will not be granted to us by benevolent members within the duopoly. This attack on women’s reproductive rights will have a devastating, negative impact on the entire working class. It will take a mass, grassroots struggle to stop this assault on our rights.