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The 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the 45th President

January 22, 2018 is the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that confirmed a woman’s constitutional right to decide whether to obtain an abortion. In just its first year, the Trump Administration has attacked that right, doing everything in its power to undermine, restrict, and eliminate a woman’s right to abortion and other reproductive health care.

The Trump Administration Has Nominated and Appointed Individuals Opposed to Abortion and Birth Control

The Trump Administration worked quickly to install opponents of abortion and birth control in key government positions and courts across the country.

  • Federal Government Officials in the Trump Administration Are Overwhelmingly Opposed to Abortion and Birth Control and Are Putting Those Views Into Policy: The Trump Administration has nominated and appointed a number of individuals hostile to reproductive health to key positions. Katy Talento – who said using birth control will “break[] your uterus for good” – was hired as a White House aide. Charmaine Yoest – the former president of the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life – became assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. And some individuals who oppose abortion and contraception were put in charge of the programs and policies that are supposed to provide those services. For example, Teresa Manning – who does not believe birth control can be effective – was put in charge of the nation’s family planning program. Scott Lloyd, the head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, is so opposed to abortion that he has done everything in his power to stop young pregnant immigrant women in ORR custody from getting an abortion, including personally calling them to talk them out of abortion and blocking them from getting the care they need until forced to do so by a court of law.
  • Trump has Already Appointed One Supreme Court Justice Hostile to Women’s Reproductive Rights: As a candidate, Trump guaranteed that his Supreme Court nominees would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, even declaring that if he were elected, Roe would be overturned “automatically.” Trump’s first Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, has a record hostile to the constitutional right to privacy, criticized Supreme Court abortion cases, supported an anti-abortion politician’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood without legal basis to do so, and allowed religious beliefs of employers to override a woman’s access to birth control. The U.S. Supreme Court has the ultimate say in whether Roe is upheld or further weakened. If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe, at least 18 states are poised to make abortion illegal.
  • Trump Has Nominated a Slew of Lower Court Judicial Nominees Hostile to a Woman’s Right to Abortion: In his first year, President Trump nominated numerous individuals to the lower federal courts who demonstrated outright hostility to Roe v. Wade and other reproductive rights and core legal principles. These include John K. Bush, who said abortion and slavery were the “two greatest tragedies in our country,” Damien Schiff, who compared abortion to infanticide and slavery, and Brett Talley, who called Roe v. Wade “indefensible” in an anonymous post on a message board. Because the Supreme Court only hears a small number of cases per year, the lower courts make the majority of decisions about a woman’s constitutional right to abortion and birth control.

The Trump Administration Has Pursued an Anti-Abortion Agenda

In its first year, the Trump Administration wasted no time putting into place laws and policies that undermine, restrict, and block access to abortion and birth control.

  • The Trump Administration Made it Harder for Women Around the World to Get an Abortion or Even Information about Abortion: In one of his first acts as President, Trump signed an executive order reinstating the “global gag rule” – a harmful policy that prohibits international non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. government funding from using their own money to provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion. This policy harms the health of individuals in the poorest countries and leaves them without the information and care they need.
  • The Trump Administration Issued New Rules Allowing Employers to Take Birth Control Coverage Away from Employees: In October 2017, the Trump Administration issued new rules, effective immediately, that allow virtually any employer in this country to take birth control coverage away from their employees because of the employer’s religious or moral objection. Although subject to numerous legal challenges and blocked temporarily by courts, the Trump Administration continues to defend these rules.
  • The Trump Administration is Forcing Young Immigrant Women to Continue Pregnancies Against their Will: The Office for Refugee Resettlement has put policies in place that systematically and illegally deny young immigrant women their right to safe, legal abortion. Courts have had to intervene in order to ensure that these women get the care they need.
  • The Trump Administration Ended Critical Programs Helping Teens Avoid Pregnancy: In 2017, the Trump Administration suddenly took nearly $214 million from teen pregnancy prevention programs across the country, ending grants to diverse organizations to implement evidence-based programming to prevent teen pregnancy.

The Trump Administration Has Emboldened Federal and State Lawmakers to Attack a Women’s Right to Abortion and Birth Control

The Trump Administration’s extreme ideology has emboldened lawmakers opposed to reproductive rights to pursue policies that degrade the fundamental constitutional right to abortion and other reproductive health care.

  • The Trump Administration Supports Federal Lawmakers in their Quest to Pass New Laws that Deny Women Reproductive Health Care: The Trump Administration has supported Congressional attacks on reproductive health care and the right to abortion, including attempts to defend Planned Parenthood, bills that ban abortion, and bills that withhold insurance coverage of abortion.
  • The Trump Administration has Reinvigorated State Lawmakers’ Attempts to Restrict Abortion: In Trump’s first year, 19 states adopted 63 new restrictions on abortion rights and access. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that is the largest number of abortion restrictions enacted in a year since 2013.

Join the National Women’s Law Center in Taking Action

On the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are faced with extreme threats to Roe v. Wade and an individual’s right to obtain the reproductive health care she needs. These threats posed by the Trump Administration must be taken seriously and we must fight back. Fortunately, a powerful resistance and uprising of grassroots efforts has developed across the country. People everywhere are raising their voices, contacting their lawmakers, and taking to the streets and social media to express their disagreement with the anti-women policies put into place by the Trump Administration. The resistance meant that 2017 also saw positive, forward movement, including the introduction of more proactive reproductive rights and health policies that include abortion than ever before, in spite of – and in response to – the Trump Administration. Likewise, there were other groundbreaking steps towards legal rights and justice, such as the efforts to reckon with sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination.

Please join the National Women’s Law Center in taking action to oppose the Trump Administration.

Some things you can do to join the resistance:

  • Learn more about judicial nominations.
  • Learn more about harmful laws that allow health care providers to dictate patient access to health care, a signature priority of the Trump Administration.
  • Share your story: if you have had problems receiving reproductive health care, please contact us.
  • Tell your elected officials to oppose abortion restrictions.
  • Learn more about other efforts to protect against sex discrimination, such as the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.
  • If you are an elected official that would like to introduce legislation that protects reproductive health and economic justice, please learn more here, and contact NWLC for support.