Reproductive Health in the Time of Trump

Illustration by Nick Rogers

Illustration by Nick Rogers

In the ideal world of healthcare, everyone everywhere would have access to excellent quality of care, regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, or any other factor that may cause disparity. However, the world we live in today does not provide such an opportunity for everyone due to the institutionalized nature of healthcare and striking disparities between genders, social classes, and developed and developing countries. One increasingly politicized area of healthcare is reproductive health. Many, particularly those in the new Trump administration, call for the defunding of organizations that provide abortion services or even provide information about abortion. Vice President Mike Pence has played a particular role in defunding Planned Parenthood. However, the defunding of organizations that provide abortions comes at the detriment of the the countless other invaluable healthcare services these organizations provide.
Reproductive health care, particularly women’s health, has been a large point of contention throughout history, both politically and socially. The most heavily criticized aspect of it is abortion. Abortion is often opposed for religious and moral reasons due to the belief that life begins with fertilization, but just as many people support it for legal and moral reasons due to their belief that women have the right to make independent health care choices. An organization that has faced particular criticism is Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides reproductive health services worldwide. Critics use it as the symbol of all that is evil and wrong with abortion. They tell alternative facts, such as stories of chopped up baby parts, without telling the whole truth. Those harvested baby parts videos? They were intentionally edited to provide a certain message, one that was promoted by people with no qualms about manipulating words to try to stop access to abortions. That mysterious black market? Medical research involves fetal tissue, which can be donated by people after abortions, not for profit but for the good of society. In fact, fetal tissue’s role in medical research helped develop the polio vaccine.
As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence signed extreme legislation restricting access to, funding for, and support for Planned Parenthood, because they provide abortion services, even though they provide countless other services including cancer screenings and prevention, prenatal services, STD testing, and contraception. Mike Pence’s role in trying to defund Planned Parenthood was so detrimental, he “forced so many of its clinics to close in Indiana that he triggered an H.I.V. epidemic in one county” that resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency. This defunding of Planned Parenthood in the name of “pro-life” agendas has more consequences than its critics realize. Planned Parenthood is an invaluable provider of healthcare to low-income women, and its federal funding is more nuanced than people realize. In Missouri, for example, due to increased regulations, the Central West End Planned Parenthood clinic is the only one in the state that provides surgical abortion services. Missouri requires a three-day waiting period, and tax funding only pays for abortions “in cases of incest, rape, or when the woman’s life is in danger.” In fact, the federal funding Planned Parenthood receives comes in the form of “Medicaid reimbursements for Pap smears, STD tests and cancer screenings,” which are healthcare procedures vital to a woman’s health. More than removing the ability of a woman to choose, defunding Planned Parenthood removes the ability of women to access healthcare. Lack of access to healthcare should not be an issue in our modern, globalized society. The United States has a major role in providing aid to other countries due to its economic and political strength, and in order to honor this responsibility and provide a more free world, the United States needs to support women’s access and right to reproductive health domestically and abroad.

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