Right to Choose Endangered by Trump Cabinet

Adriana Teitelbaum, Contributing Writer

Donald Trump’s election has resulted in many people questioning the stability of the progress that’s been made during President Barack Obama’s tenure, including LGBTQ rights and gender and racial equality. Trump has announced his intention to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices and defund Planned Parenthood. Even in these early stages of Trump’s presidency, we can see how dangerous a time it will be for people seeking reliable reproductive health care.

The issue of abortion access is not new, as conservatives across the country have been attempting to limit the right to choose for decades, but recent waves of legislation have been particularly vindictive in their goal to undermine reproductive rights. On Dec. 9, a new law will come into effect in Texas that requires aborted fetuses to be either buried or cremated, often at great cost to the family. The requirement will also apply to those who miscarry in hospitals. Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote in a fundraising email that the purpose of said law was to “reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.” What this requirement actually does is create a false equivalency that a fetus and a human life are the same thing, as well as limit people’s rights to make autonomous choices about their own bodies.

Unfortunately, legislation limiting abortion access is not contained to Texas, but has reached almost every state in the nation, including Ohio. A bill similar to the one in Texas is being considered in Ohio, along with a bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy — four weeks earlier than the current cut-off. In addition, the state of Ohio revoked the license Thursday of one of its last abortion clinics, the Women’s Medical Center of Dayton.

Some optimists have suggested that Trump will have limited ability to curb reproductive rights, as most laws pertaining to abortions are set by the states. However, this argument ignores federal agencies and the important role the president plays in setting policy agenda nationwide. On Tuesday, the President-elect’s transition team announced Trump’s selection of Georgia Representative Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services. Price cosponsored the Right to Life Act that would have categorized a just-fertilized egg as a “human being,” essentially outlawing abortion entirely. He has supported defunding Planned Parenthood and a national ban on abortions past 20 weeks. As secretary of Health and Human Services, Price would be in control of an $80 billion budget and be responsible for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Medicare, Medicaid and the Food and Drug Administration. He could change policy and funding priorities in ways that would seriously impede access to abortion and birth control.

Even though he has yet to be sworn into office, President-elect Trump has shown how he is likely to threaten the rights of Americans. He has the support of many conservative politicians already enacting restrictive reproductive legislation across the country, with more unfair changes looming on the horizon. It is disheartening to think of the regressive policies that are to come in his term and the countless years it will take to undo the damage that will be done.