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U.S. STD Rates Still Rising as Trump Officially Attacks Funding for Planned Parenthood, Other Women’s Health Groups

Woman holding sign that says, "Ugh, where do I even start?"

Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

According to data released this week, STDs have reached an all-time high in the U.S., increasing for the fourth consecutive year. In an interview with Vogue, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services said the alarming numbers are indicative of how “too many people aren’t getting the health care and education they need in order to keep themselves healthy.”

And as news this week suggests, the Trump administration seems hellbent on further escalating this national public health crisis through attacking family planning resources that, in addition to preventing unplanned pregnancy, also prevent the spread of STDs. Opponents of reproductive rights are focused on one thing, and no matter what they say, that goal is to punish women.

Health and safety are the staples of a meaningful life—but frankly, people like Donald Trump and Mike Pence couldn’t care less about the costs of their crusade against women’s health. Their administration’s actions, during the same week that a report showed STD rates have risen again in this country, are proof.

The Trump administration has shortened the funding period for Planned Parenthood and other family planning groups

Just weeks after the Health and Human Services Department announced it would continue to offer Title X funding to Planned Parenthood, despite previous proposals to discontinue funding, the Trump administration now plans to end the current funding period early, in March 2019. Previously, funding periods have lasted for three years.

According to The Hill, the change “suggests the administration might be planning to wrap up a proposed regulation that would revise the requirements for receiving Title X funding” for the new period, by blocking funding for groups that refer women for abortions and requiring abortion-providing facilities be physically separated from those that receive funds—with the goal of ultimately slashing funding to Planned Parenthood or at least causing them increased difficulty.

Allies of Planned Parenthood and other family planning groups have said that, further attacks aside, the new timetable will pose an “undue administrative burden” on health care providers by forcing them to do the work necessary to compete for funding more frequently, and “detract from [their] daily work” of providing health care.

At a time of soaring STD rates, and with the groundwork laid to all but end legal abortion in the U.S., attacks on preventive care at this critical political moment should lay bare the end goal of anti-choice politicians: forcing women to give birth, and threatening their health, safety, and lives.

California bill to bring abortion to college campuses awaits Jerry Brown’s signature

A years-in-the-making bill to fund and make medication abortion accessible at public universities in California has finally passed the state legislature after being sent back and forth between the state Senate and Assembly over the past couple years. Now, all that’s left for SB 320 is California Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, and while Brown is a Democrat with a pro-choice record, he’s rejected pro-women bills before, such as a bill that would have slashed the tampon tax.

Anti-abortion activists and state legislators have justified their opposition to the bill, in addition to their general anti-choice spin, through citing concerns for its fiscal viability. But as Democratic senators favoring the bill have pointed out, there will be no financial burden whatsoever on universities, since the bill has been privately funded by women’s health groups and private donors in the state. And really, if they’re going to reject a bill meant to empower college-age women and help them pursue education on an equal level with their male peers, they might as well be upfront about their misogyny.

Without SB 320, particularly in more rural California universities, the trip to have an abortion off-campus can be an all-day affair requiring students to miss class, work, and internships, and pose a substantial financial burden through the loss of a work shift’s income and, of course, the costs of an abortion. And it’s an issue their cis male peers will never face. Plus, abortion—surgical and medication—is as safe or safer than most mainstream health services that aren’t mired in the same stigma as abortion.

From high-profile editors to leading politicians and activists, to one in four of the women in your day-to-day life, access to abortion care is what’s allowed many women to build their careers, families, or pursue their passions their way, and on their own time. And for many women, that starts with the ability to finish college.

Missouri women’s health clinic on track to offer medication abortion

Speaking of access to medication abortion and much-needed state-level wins for reproductive rights, this week, Missouri’s Health and Senior Services Department announced that it expects a Planned Parenthood clinic in Kansas City to obtain a license to offer medication abortion, now that the clinic has hired a doctor to administer the medication, and provide support in the event of “complications.”

Of course, medication abortion is perfectly safe, and the notion that it’s not is used solely to further restrict access to abortion by citing fear of said “complications.” Seven states in the U.S. have just one abortion provider to serve millions of women of reproductive age, while in recent years, laws purporting to protect “women’s safety” have passed by the dozens across the country. More than a quarter of all of the roughly 1,200 new anti-abortion laws between 1973 and today were passed in the five years between 2011 and 2016 alone.

Sure, one new abortion provider in one state may not sound like a huge deal, but in a state like Missouri, which had only two abortion providers in 2014, it’s a game-changer for lots of women.

Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!

(image: Avivi Aharon /

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