By Sarah Grados
In a room filled with the approval of like-minded older, white, conservative men, Donald Trump ignored the outcries of a nation, and responded to the ocean of women who marched in solidarity on Saturday, January 21st, for the rights to their bodies, minds and feelings about the ignorance and plethora of problems this new president is igniting. Trump tried to smother the sounds of the people to exert his force and vye for the old ideals of an patriarchal and antiquated generation by enforcing “The Global Gag Rule” on Monday, January 23rd.
Essentially, the global gag rule declares that any non-government organizations overseas are forbidden to present abortion as an option to pregnant women; they may not perform abortions unless if caused by rape or incest, and may not even speak the word “abortion” to any women in the clinic. Although the US sends over $600 million annually to various organizations around the world to help support family planning and other reproductive needs, the global gag will pull these funds if any abortions are performed. The money that the US puts forward that makes it possible for 27 million women to access contraceptive services and supplies is now in jeopardy of being defunded. However, is there any other country or superpower in the world that could replace the funding that the US has provided since 1973? If the US were to defund family planning internationally, then perhaps those other countries would take better responsibility for their own population and any reproductive issues with their respective people. Most recently, eight other countries around the world united together in an effort to push back against Trump’s detrimental order. These countries include Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada, and Cape Verde. The Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Isabella Lövin, boldly projected, “[The gag order] could be so dangerous for so many women.” Sometimes the most complicated problems are the perfect breeding ground for new solutions to be born. This new united front of countries will be meeting on March 2nd to discuss funding methods to keep treatment and options available to those women who need it.
The US has disguised its “humanitarian” generosity behind the deeper agenda of policing and babysitting the world. This quid pro quo policy is definitely not worth the price. The US government, especially the current president, should not have such absolute control to limit and enforce such limitations on women’s lives. It becomes a point of negotiation to decide how much US funding should be sent if it comes at the cost of such dire lack of freedom to supposedly serve the women. There are many international health organizations that are now speculating that the gag order was Trump’s supercilious way of slapping back the retaliation of the women who marched in disapproval of his newly appointed position. The audacity of this situation is not only that Trump is effectively not supporting women’s rights, but is indirectly also hurting the male population that may also need the funding that provides support and treatment for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Scott Evertz, who once served as director of the White House and oversaw the National Aids Policy, said, “Applying the global gag rule to PEPFARS (The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) programs ill affects millions of men as well.” These programs serve the whole community, both men and women, and defunding these programs could lead to the spread of deadly diseases and adversely affect a healthy global population. This kind of executive power becomes the epitome of totalitarianism – declaring absolute control over the bodies, decisions, and choices that every woman and man should have the right to make for themselves.
Incredibly, Trump’s Cabinet is more white and more male than any other presidents since Reagan’s, which speaks volumes to the close-minded, judgemental and archaic orders that are being produced. Though Trump ignored the crashing waves of millions of women across the globe, their voices will not go unheard. Perhaps it takes this kind of catalyst to fire up the drive and fury to create change. It is long overdue that women regain their power and right to decide what happens with their body, just as men are able to do whatever they please with theirs, and to truly decide without government involvement or limitation, what choices they deem best for their life. The big debate on whether tax dollars should be funding abortions (aside from rape and incest), fails to recognize the numerous other reasons why women choose to stop a pregnancy – ranging from health issues, negative genetic developments, physical dangers to the pregnant women, amongst many others. The truth is women are not equal to men – they have the unique ability to produce other humans within their bodies. This fact alone should merit a special type of self-authorized power – a power that no one else can take away from them or supercede the woman’s decisions. In essence, every woman deserves to hold on to their inherent right and power to decide whether life will move through their vessel (i.e. uterus) or not.