Six Ways Trump’s Budget Proposal Hurts Women

President Trump released his 2019 budget proposal this week, which was shocking in its cruelty toward poor, sick and rural Americans—not to mention children, senior citizens and immigrants.

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The proposal cuts pretty much every government program, from food stamps to public transportation, in order to boost military spending. (A $1.5 trillion cut to all “non-defense discretionary” spending over the next decade, however—a 40 percent cut to most everything but the Pentagon—still leaves room to increase funding for detaining undocumented immigrants.)

In some ways, it may seem that the budget is indiscriminate in its harm—for example, it ends student loan forgiveness and the Rural Economic Development Program and slashes crucial environmental protection initiatives in a darkly ironic blow to regions that comprised Trump’s own supporters. But many of the policies and practices outlined within it target the same group that has been bearing the brunt of the administration’s bigotry and intolerance: women.

Here are just six ways how.

1. Planned Parenthood will lose crucial funding.

By blocking Planned Parenthood from Health and Human Services programs such as Medicaid and Title X, the only federal programs that boost access to birth control, hundreds of thousands could lose access to basic health care provided by Planned Parenthood. According to the women’s health organization’s own estimates, about 80 percent of its millions of patients rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control; without access, unintended pregnancy (and, ironically, abortion) rates would rise dramatically.

2. Cuts to Medicaid will leave low-income women without access to vital health care services.

The budget also includes slashing $1.4 trillion from Medicaid in the next 10 years, a move that would devastate low-income families. As the insurance plan of one in five women—that is, about 16.6 million people in the United States—Medicaid currently covers around half of all births and connects disproportionately low-income, women of color to reproductive health care services that can be life-saving.

3. Another attempt to roll back the Affordable Care Act will leave women without comprehensive health care coverage.

Among all of the many marginalized demographics that rely on the ACA for health insurance, women have always been a key beneficiary. The most recent estimates find 7.5 million women gained health insurance coverage through Obamacare, and could lose their insurance without it.

Now, after multiple failures to repeal the act in Congress, this administration is attempting to write out the ACA in its 2019 budget. The budget is bizarrely modeled around the repeal of Obamacare, premised around a $675 billion cost savings estimate from repealing the law. Just last year, Trump’s Health and Human Services Department dealt a severe blow to women’s health by ending the contraceptive mandate, a crucial tenet of the Affordable Care Act that granted cost-free birth control to 55 million American women, and saved women an estimated $1.4 billion annually in the years it existed. Without the ACA, through which millions of women are insured, things will only get worse for women.

4. Teenage girls could lose sexual health education.

In addition to slashing Medicaid, Planned Parenthood and the ACA, the budget proposal also ends the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program—which provides crucial, objective sex ed to 1.2 million young people across the country. Comprehensive sexual health education is strongly correlated with lower rates of teen pregnancy, along with safer and healthier relationships and stronger self-esteem. On the other hand, the abstinence-only education programs championed by conservatives and this administration seem tied to higher rates of unintended pregnancies in teens, along with shame.

5. Health care providers would have even more leeway to discriminate against women.

Following up on a new HHS policy unveiled last month, the budget proposal would “double down” on granting health care workers free rein in discriminating against LGBTQ people and women—for example, denying women information about birth control or refusing to provide abortion care. According to Planned Parenthood, this new proposal would encode that intolerance into the national budget.

6. Homeless women will lose support and shelter.

In addition to all of these far more directly discriminatory measures, the proposed budget would also hurt women by slashing funding for Section 8, a federal voucher program that provides shelter for hundreds of thousands of Americans. The budget would take away $47 billion in funding for the program.

Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and 90 percent of all homeless families are headed by women. Additionally, domestic violence is a leading cause for homelessness in women, who are more likely than men to live in poverty and, thus, more likely to experience homelessness. In the absence of affordable housing options, the budget proposal will leave those women and other women experiencing homelessness without refuge.

Kylie Cheung is an editorial intern at Ms. She writes about feminism in politics and pop culture with a focus on reproductive justice. Her work appeared in Rewire, Teen Vogue, The Mary Sue and Mediaite, among others.

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