Trump Team Emails Reveal Efforts to Prevent Undocumented Minors From Receiving Abortions
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!
Racism at the White House this week seemed to reach epic proportions, first when President Donald Trump doled out a racial slur at a White House event honoring World War II Navajo code talkers, and yet again when he retweeted propaganda videos from an anti-Muslim hate group. And beyond the rhetorical harm of this language, which is shameful enough in itself, there’s evidence of policy decisions by the Trump administration rooted in the same bigotry. This week, emails between Trump officials were released as part of a federal lawsuit to ban abortion for undocumented minors.
And, of course, this wasn’t even the only attack by the Trump administration on reproductive rights this week.
Shocker: Trump’s new nominee for health and human services secretary opposes birth control coverage
In the least surprising turn of events, President Trump’s nominee for health and human services secretary to replace former Secretary Tom Price—a man convinced women who couldn’t afford birth control were basically unicorns—is a straight white man. Equally surprising are the beliefs of Alex Azar, former deputy secretary of health and human services under George W. Bush and president of a major pharmaceutical company, about birth control: “We have to balance a woman’s choice of insurance with the conscience of their employers,” Azar, who has also made substantial donations to anti-choice groups, said at his Wednesday Senate confirmation hearing.
His view is in line with the Trump White House’s recent repeal of the Obama-era contraceptive mandate, which could cause thousands of women to lose access to free or affordable birth control. The same mandate enabled 55 million women to access co-pay-free birth control and saved women $1.4 billion on hormonal contraception, which can cause up to $113 a month and about $858 for more long-form methods like IUDs.
In other words, Azar’s hearing was pretty much just a confirmation of what we already knew about the Trump administration’s stance re: reproductive rights.
ACLU obtains Trump administration emails about undocumented minors’ access to abortion
Amid an ongoing lawsuit, in which the Trump Health and Human Services department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement is attempting to block detained undocumented minors’ access to abortion, this week, the ACLU obtained a series of internal emails from the ORR in which officials discuss various methods of blocking young undocumented women from having the procedure.
In one example, Jonathan White, deputy director for children’s programs at the Administration for Children and Families, ordered a shelter to keep a minor who had been given clearance to leave because the minor had previously asked for an abortion. Instead, White ordered that the shelter release the minor only after providing mandatory anti-abortion counseling. Another email details policies that break with Obama-era policy by requiring sonograms at shelters with minors seeking abortions, while still others ask shelters to intervene in cases where medication-based abortion is already underway, rejecting judicial bypasses that minors have obtained.
The Trump administration launched a lawsuit after an undocumented minor in Texas, called Jane Doe in court, had an abortion in October after a month-long legal conflict, in which the Justice Department and Texas state authorities asserted that not everyone had the right to an abortion, essentially suggesting that human rights are contingent on a minor’s citizenship papers. While Doe eventually received her abortion, it looks like the White House’s lethal combination of disregard for women’s bodily autonomy and unwillingness to recognize undocumented people as humans with rights leaves them determined to prevent this from happening in the future.
Democrats poised to replace anti-choice Democratic congressional Rep.
Amid an ongoing debate about whether support for women’s fundamental human rights should be thrown under the bus to support some anti-choice Democrats in red states, Democrats like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are helping lead the charge to replace Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), described as “staunchly anti-abortion” by The Hill, with his progressive, pro-choice primary challenger, Marie Newman.
“This is really a chance for Democrats in the district to step up and vote for someone who represents their values,” said James Owens, a spokesman for NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the abortion-rights groups backing Newman. “This could send a signal to the nation as to what Democrats will stand for and run on in 2018.”
Democratic leadership from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to DNC chair Tom Perez have all expressed willingness to support and financially back anti-choice Democrats, suggesting that abortion rights can be compromised on. Pelosi has gone so far as to call abortion rights a “fading issue,” despite rising maternal mortality rates and restrictions on the procedure that make it nearly impossible to access in most of rural America. Shifting focus back to support for reproductive rights shows that at least some Democrats recognize that the issue of access to abortion isn’t some fringe, irrelevant social issue, but one with real, lived consequences for American women’s living standards that deserves to be fought for on every level.
Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!
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