It’s President Donald Trump’s first Monday in the White House, and the executive order he signed today shows the new president is not afraid to start working towards the goals he outlined during his campaign. However, being a content-heavy order, this move marks both progress and regression.
Monday’s executive order outlined a few rulings, two of which are getting a lot of attention:
- Action to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation process.
- Reinstatement of the “Mexico City policy” on abortion
These points each offer a variety of potentially positive and negative outcomes — either way, they’re a huge step away from what we’ve seen under former President Barack Obama’s actions and a step toward Trump’s efforts to focus on radically reshaping policy.
The TPP is a controversial trade negotiation Obama advocated for, involving 11 other Pacific Rim countries in hopes to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in the signatories’ countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.” The agreement contains measures to lower both non-tariff and tariff barriers to trade and to establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, a system that allows individual companies to sue countries for alleged discriminatory practices.
The TPP has problems that would be consequential for America. It omits currency rules that would undermine its market-opening benefits. Manipulation of currency has already proven to cause U.S. factories to fail and the unemployment of millions of American workers. The inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement could also make the U.S. vulnerable to huge global corporations, granting them the ability to collect taxpayer money to compensate for lost profits. On top of this, the TPP would also threaten American workers with potential for further job outsourcing.
Contrasting plans between Obama and Trump — who campaigned against the deal but also faced criticism for offshoring much of his business manufacturing production — is what influenced many blue-collar workers to abandon the Democratic platform and flock to Trump’s side. In agreeing to abandon TPP negotiations, Trump made a move for the people. While we await for how he further approaches foreign and trade agreements, this move in the meantime is a preferable one for the American people.
However, Trump’s executive order on abortion is one that takes a step backwards on women’s rights and healthcare. The rule, one previously seen during the Reagan administration, prevents foreign organizations that receive money from the U.S. from discussing abortion or providing abortion services to women and families.
This policy has proven to be detrimental to women’s health in the past. BuzzFeed News reports that leading family planning NGO Marie Stopes International stated that preventing access to safe prevention and treatment around abortion will increase unsafe abortion rates and maternal fatality.
“MSI estimates there will be an additional 2.2 million abortions globally each year — 2.1 million of which will be unsafe,” the article writes, citing that women seeking abortion will seek “back alley” and risky ways of aborting their pregnancies. The World Health Organization estimates that unsafe abortions account for 13 percent of maternal fatalities. The rates could increase with Trump’s policy in place.
While this ruling also targets abortion, there are other risks that would be harmful to women’s health. As the United States Agency for International Development — better known as USAID — is a global provider of family planning services, including the abortion services and information access Trump stands against, cutting funding would also cut the many other services USAID provides.
CHANGE states that USAID provides nearly half of all global funding for women’s contraception — an imperative tool in HIV prevention. Without funding, women will find dramatic decreases in contraception accessibility. Cutting USAID funding would also mean reduction in staffing and could mean more clinics would close. BuzzFeed cites that under the Bush administration’s implementation of this kind of policy, “a network of clinics that served more than 1,300 communities in Ghana had to cut its nursing staff by 44%.”
These potential decreases in important services and tools for women and their families globally could impact HIV, as contraception information and distribution is imperative to prevention.
NARAL Pro-Choice America’s president, Ukyse Hogue, summarized the situation well.
“Family planning clinics are really critical. Sometimes they’re the first point of entry into the health system when it comes to HIV prevention and treatment,” she said. “People are getting access information about using condoms to prevent HIV. It’s a place where an HIV diagnosis can be made.”
After the Women’s March on Washington D.C. this past weekend — which stood in addition to over 300 other sister marches in the country and supporting marches of over 50 other countries — largely advocating for pro-choice policies, this move is one that huge numbers of women are fighting against.
Although Trump’s order will have to face Congress, with the House and Senate under a Republican majority also in-line with the anti-abortion platform, the women who marched this past weekend will have to continue pushing their state representatives and senators if they want to protect the integrity of women’s healthcare that they stand for.
While Trump, the House and Senate have the upper hand against these women, Bernie Sanders articulated hope and the strength women have in fighting for their ability to defend their bodily agency:
“Women aren’t going back to second-class citizenship. They are going forward. We are all in this together,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter.