The War on Women Report No. 4

The War on Women is in full force under the Trump administration. We refuse to go back, and we refuse to let the administration quietly dismantle the progress we’ve made. We are watching. 

This is the War on Women Report.

Molly Adams

Sunday 9/17

+ In an interview with ABC’s This Week Sunday, national security advisor H.R. McMaster called President Trump’s Muslim Ban a “first step,” indicating that further restrictions and policy changes were ahead. The administration’s ban slashes the number of refugees welcome in the U.S. and specifically bans immigrants and refugees from specific Muslim-majority countries from entering the country. The ban puts women refugees—many of whom flee countries to escape domestic and sexual violence—at particular risk, and endangers the networks of women’s activists in the Middle East.

Monday 9/18

+ On Monday morning, it was made public that  the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing on September 26 about block-grants and health care costs. It’s not typical for the HSGA committee to hold hearings on healthcare-related matters, and the scheduled hearing followed comments by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) last week that he would use his rank as chairman to schedule a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. The legislation, introduced last week, marks a last-ditch effort by the GOP to repeal the ACA—and its harshest yet. It would decimate Medicaid, roll back many of the key discrimination protections built into the ACA, and leave women, the elderly, the disabled and the poor at particular risk of losing critical access to necessary care.

Tuesday 9/19

+ In his first speech before a UN assembly, President Trump astonished diplomats and foreign leaders with a brazen tirade on his “America First” approach to foreign policy—one that puts women and girls at risk. The U.S. delegation to the UN assembly was also cut by over 50 percent under the Trump administration, dealing another blow to our nation’s ability to effectively serve as diplomats and participants on the world stage. Women around the world will likely be the first to bear the brunt of such disregard for diplomatic relationships, as the intersection of gender and terrorism makes them most vulnerable to rising extremism. (Read more about women, peace and security here.)

+ A White House official told CNN Tuesday that President Trump would sign the Graham-Cassidy Affordable Care Act repeal into law.

Wednesday 9/20

+ Members of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter Wednesday urging U.S. Senators to reject Thomas Farr‘s nomination to the federal bench. The Alliance for Justice, North Carolina NAACP and North Carolina AFL-CIO have also raised concerns about his nomination.

The letter to the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, signed by U.S. Reps. G. K. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, and Cedric L. Richmond, chairman of the Black Caucus, highlights Farr’s work defending North Carolina redistricting maps and election-law overhauls that since have been overturned by the federal courts.

In 1992, as a lawyer for the re-election campaign of Jesse Helms, the former Republican senator from Raleigh who died in 2008, Farr was part of the defense against U.S. Justice Department complaints of voter intimidation after postcards were sent to 100,000 black voters telling them they were ineligible to vote and might be arrested if they tried, the Black Caucus members said.

“It is no exaggeration to say that had the White House deliberately sought to identify an attorney in North Carolina with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights and workers’ rights than Thomas Farr, it could hardly have done so,” Democratic Reps. Butterfield, Richmond, John Conyers of Michigan and Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C., wrote in the letter. “We believe that Mr. Farr’s record raises serious questions regarding his commitment to equal justice under the law that disqualifies him from service on the federal bench. ”

+ CNN Wednesday also reported that one of Trump’s judicial nominees from Texas, Jeff Mateer, publicly declared in 2015 that trans children were part of “Satan’s plan” and defended so-called LGBT conversion therapy, which has been denounced as harmful and without scientific basis by groups like the American Psychiatric Association and the American Pediatric Association and has been banned in some states.

Friday 9/22

+ The Trump administration Friday formally rescinded landmark Obama-era guidance on Title IX that protected and provided resources for survivors of sexual assault and ending rape culture on campus. When announcing a policy that was formed, at least in part, with alleged rapists in mind, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement that interim guidance in place now “will treat all students fairly.” The guidance, presented in the form of a Q&A, allows alleged perpetrators to appeal findings, does away with a 60-day guideline for resolving investigations and imposes new evidence standards that put survivors at a disadvantage. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said Friday that DeVos was allowing “predators to continue to roam college campuses,” adding that “she must reverse this decision immediately, instruct schools to take claims of sexual assault seriously and start standing up for survivors.”

In a joint statement, Feminist Majority Foundation President Ellie Smeal and Policy Director Gaylynn Burroughs reacted with shock and horror at the decision. “The DeVos Department of Education can’t seem to understand that its job is to protect victims of discrimination, including student survivors of sexual assault,” Smeal said. “Make no mistake, by rescinding the April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence and the April 2014 Title IX guidance document, the Department has prioritized the rights of those alleged to have committed sexual violence over victims of assault. Far from guaranteeing equity—the goal of Title IX—the Department has actually tipped the scales against victims, the very people the Department is supposed to protect.”

“By issuing this new interim guidance, the Department has revealed an aggressive and willful ignorance toward the needs of survivors,” Burroughs added. “The Trump Administration is sending us back to an ugly time when rape victims suffered in silence in our schools and colleges and perpetrators were able to assault multiple women with impunity.”




Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|