Trump-Pence Gag Rule Blocks Women from Getting the Health Care They Need

 

By Paloma Arroyo
Planned Parenthood Illinois Action

 

The Trump-Pence administration is at it again.

They’re trying to block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood. However, the latest attack is much bigger than Planned Parenthood. This new rule would be radical departure from the way health care has operated in the United States up until now.

On Tuesday, May 22nd, at a reception for the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization known for their extreme anti-choice agenda, President Donald Trump announced he would be making changes to a decades-old federal family planning program, Title X. The changes are a gag rule. Period.

The gag rule would do four main things.

1. Impose new rules designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.

2. Prevent health care providers across the country — including doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers — from referring their patients for safe, legal abortion.

3. Remove the guarantee that patients get full and accurate information about their health care from their doctors.

4. Remove the requirement that contraception be medically approved and that providers ensure access to full range of birth control.

This is a direct attack on women’s basic rights.

Established in 1970, Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with low incomes access to comprehensive family planning. Title X ensures people have access to contraception and gives them more control over their lives, health, careers, and economic security.

In Illinois, there are 95 Title X sites, 17 of which are Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) health centers. While PPIL makes up only 18% of total Title X providers in the state, PPIL serves 42%, or 43,950, of Title X patients in Illinois. Blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood means that many of these people would go without care because Planned Parenthood is the only Title X health care provider in their community. In Illinois, there are six counties—LaSalle, Macon, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon, and Tazewell—where PPIL is the only Title X provider.

It gets much worse. Nationally, there are 4,000 Title X health centers, and this gag rule would block federal funding from going to any US health clinic that so much as mentions abortion as an option for women. This means that many community health centers, hospital-based clinics, and health departments would also be gagged from giving patients full and accurate information about all of their options.

This is detrimental for the state of Illinois.



If Planned Parenthood were excluded from Title X, all other types of Title X-funded sites in Illinois would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 73 percent to serve the women who currently obtain contraceptive care from Planned Parenthood health centers. For example, in DuPage County, PPIL’s Aurora Health Center serves 75% of patients that access contraceptive care from a publicly funded health center.

This gag rule would fall the hardest on people of color.


Because of systemic inequities, many patients who rely on Title X for their health care needs are people of color, who already face significant barriers to accessing health care. About 21 percent of Title X patients identify as Black or African American and 32 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino. After being blocked from these health centers, including Planned Parenthood, many patients would have nowhere else to go for care.

How can you fight back? 



The proposed rule was officially published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 1. The 60-day comment period is open now and will conclude on July 31.

1. Post a comment for HHS here
2. Text TITLEX to 22422
3. Share your Planned Parenthood story
4. Volunteer: email palomaa@ppil.org for opportunities to get involved
5. Social media: #NoGagRule #StandWithPP


Paloma Arroyo is a grassroots organizer with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, and Planned Parenthood Illinois PAC.

 

 

The #MeToo Movement and the ERA

By Beverly George, ACE Leader

There has been a cacophony of “Me, too!” cries recently from scores of women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace by men in power.

On October 5th, Harvey Weinstein began the long parade of powerful men in business, entertainment, and politics losing their jobs, with more men getting their marching orders every day. The range of odious behavior directed to women begins with inappropriate, rude, or crude comments or actions, and extends to lewd or criminal behavior.

While I am pleased to see the spotlight shine on these heinous acts, I have some nagging thoughts.

First, what about the victims of sexual harassment or assault from a less famous employer, such as the manager of the local corner store, restaurant, manufacturing plant, or car dealership? Will these victims have the courage to tell their stories, or will they fear losing the jobs they desperately need? Will these men be held accountable?

Second, I’ve read about the standing procedure for making a complaint of sexual abuse in the Congress and in other high offices. In the past, victims have received financial settlements, but at the very high personal price of signing non-disclosure agreements so ironclad, the offenders’ names can never be disclosed, enabling them to continue their illicit behavior. I resent mightily that my tax dollars are used to pay the settlements and keep the cloak of secrecy in place while the wheels of these crimes roll over additional victims.

 

‘I resent mightily that my tax dollars are used to pay the settlements and keep the cloak of secrecy in place while the wheels of these crimes roll over additional victims.’

 

Third, the repercussions for an assailant in business is immediate and severe as it should be, but politicians spend a lot of time denying (even with multiple, credible victims) and then dithering. They seem to get a pass if they can ride out the 72-hour news cycle that immediately follows. And when they deny strongly and continuously, many of their female supporters join their cheerleading squad! When I see Alabama women support Roy Moore in spite of the numerous accusers, I am completely dumbstruck. Moore’s incongruous support from women makes me brace for a backlash after the initial, wide support for victims.

Fourth, I worry the emphasis in the media will shift from the deep and enduring harm done to the victims by these predators, to the perceived-as-too-harsh penalties paid by them. Could we hear this statement in the not-so-distant future? “He lost his job, his business, his reputation, his family, his position in the community.” This could backlash into silencing the victims again. And if one, just one, woman’s story is found to be false, the backlash to women will be immediate and acute, and all future testimonies will be discredited with doubt and a suspected “woman scorned” motivation.

I’ve heard TV pundits say we need to keep the conversation going and try to find the elements in our culture that have promoted, or at least allowed, the prevalence of sexual abuse by men in power to grow.

I believe America has a very real caste system. It is a part of American society or culture that people of color and people of lower economic income are valued less than their white or wealthier neighbors. I see it in the prosecution of our laws, differences in public education systems, low minimum wage, investments in community infrastructure, and recent legislative efforts to lessen or remove critical social services from those most in need.

Does this devaluation of some American lives extend to women in America? The evidence indicates it does. American women workers still earn $0.80 on the dollar for the same work done by men. Recent GOP efforts to repeal and replace the ACA had men writing the legislation to determine and limit reproductive health choices for women. The legislation they wrote without any women’s voices effectively categorized women as chattel. The sexual abuse of women in the workplace is just another symptom of the inequality of women.

 

‘Would passing the ERA change the status of women?’

 

Would passing the Equal Rights Amendment change the status of women? I’m a realist, as well as a feminist, and I believe positive outcomes from adding the ERA to the U.S. Constitution would evolve through the courts, albeit slowly. However, passing the ERA would immediately raise hope, raise voices, and give power to women, and the men who support them, to secure their equal rights under the Constitution. The ERA would have a greater and more lasting effect on women’s lives than any single or multiple pieces of legislation, too often diluted by subsequent efforts to repeal, to revise, or to interpret differently from the original intent.

Passing the ERA into Constitutional law is long overdue. When women are securely equal to men under the Constitution, more of them will be empowered to advocate for themselves in the workplace and not just on the subject of salary.

May the chorus of #MeToo play on.

 


ACE Leader Beverly George also is a member of Indivisible, the Naperville League of Women Voters, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. She also volunteers with her parish PADS group. A former chemist, George worked in clinical chemistry and hematology research at the Centers for Disease Control for six years and taught chemistry and freshman science at Naperville North High School for 20 years.

‘Equal Means Equal’ Illustrates Why We Need the ERA

 

By Beverly George, ACE Leader

 

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

I went to see the documentary film, “Equal Means Equal,” last Wednesday night, presented by the League of Women Voters (LWV), Naperville and Will County chapters, at the Naperville Municipal Center.

This film is about the yet-to-be-ratified-and-only-two-states-away Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and why passing it now should be foremost in the collective minds of American women and men.

Bonnie Grabenhofer from the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Michelle Fadeley of Illinois-NOW spoke before the film and offered a history of the amendment and its current status in the Illinois House and Senate. Nevada was the thirty-sixth state to ratify the ERA last March, and Illinois is one of the two states needed that hasn’t passed it yet, but remains one of the best chances for ratification. If Illinois passes it, there is a strong hope and belief that either Virginia, North Carolina, or Florida would be the thirty-eighth, and last required ratifying state.

What can we do right now to facilitate ratification in Illinois? Write or call your state senator and representative and urge them to ratify the ERA when it comes up for a vote in the next two weeks or in March after the primary.

 

‘What can we do right now to facilitate ratification in Illinois?
Write or call your state senator and representative and urge them to ratify the ERA when it comes up for a vote in the next two weeks or in March after the primary.’

 

The film covered more than the history of the ERA. It built a strong argument for it based on the unequal treatment of women in America that hasn’t stopped since Thomas Jefferson took pen in hand to write the familiar words of “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . .”

In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment handily passed both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Richard Nixon quickly signed it, and on March 22, 1972, the amendment was sent to the states for ratification. Deadlines to get thirty-eight states to ratify were extended several times to 1982. See the national map here. Although taking several decades to be passed, the ERA should not have to start the ratification process over again, based on the historic precedent of the Madison amendment, which took 202 years to be ratified. It was submitted in 1789 and ratified in 1992.

Back in 1982, when it failed to get the required thirty-eight (it hit a wall at 35), new arguments had been raised and drowned it out, namely that women would be better off with individual laws passed to protect specific rights. But we know from recent laws, such as the Affordable Care Act and laws regulating power plant emissions, they are subject to subsequent administrations being on board with, or the Supreme Court interpreting said laws to function as they were intended.

In these political times, that’s not likely to happen. It is mandatory the ERA be a ratified constitutional amendment if we want to secure for women their equal rights under the law. Women were chattel then, and in many ways, we still are.

 

‘Women were chattel then, and in many ways, we still are.’

 

 

Health care plans for women typically come with premiums higher by 13%.

Women who defend themselves from sexual or physical abuse from their husbands very often go to prison. The argument of self-defense is weaker than the argument that a husband has a “right” to sexual relations. These women are often beaten into submission.

Sexual abuse and harassment is about power, whether in the home or in the workplace. Consider the taped bragging of President Donald Trump when he yammered on with Billy Bush on “Access Hollywood.” His wealth gave him power to grope women for his amusement, pleasure, and affirmation of power. A more recent example is Harvey Weinstein. He was exercising his power over women’s acting careers for his amusement, pleasure, and affirmation of power. Let the recent fortissimo #MeToo refrain play on.

Child sex trafficking in the United States affects young girls far more often than young boys. A case highlighted in the film centered on a 12-year-old girl who ran away from home and within three days, fell into the hands of a pimp who put her on the streets as a prostitute. When a 47-year-old male was apprehended with her, and because money had changed hands for sexual favors, the legal principle against an adult sexually assaulting a minor went out the window, and girl was charged with the act of prostitution and ultimately sentenced to jail for several years, while the 47-year-old male paid a nominal fine. If the circumstances of the crime and arrest had featured the 47-year-old male with a 12-year-old boy, would the outcome have been the same?

The documentary also covers the need for equal pay for equal work, known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The difficulty with lawsuits that claim discrimination in the workplace based on sex is the need to establish or prove intent to discriminate. These cases are not judged on a preponderance of evidence, which is easier to prove.

If you haven’t seen the documentary, I encourage you to see it ASAP. It’s showing at several LWV meetings around the suburbs. Check screening dates and times at http://equalmeansequal.com, and take your family, friends, and neighbors, male and female. Be aware that it is adult viewing.

One last word. All of us, women and men, need the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution. When General John Kelly held his press conference on October 19 defending Mr. Trump’s remarks to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, he went on to lament that when he was growing up, “Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor.”

My hope is that we not be held sacred nor put on a pedestal of honor. Just give us our equal rights under the Constitution, and we’ll take it from there.


ACE Leader Beverly George also is a member of Indivisible, the Naperville League of Women Voters, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. She also volunteers with her parish PADS group. A former chemist, George worked in clinical chemistry and hematology research at the Centers for Disease Control for six years and taught chemistry and freshman science at Naperville North High School for 20 years.