War on Women Report No. 17

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.

Last week

+ Last week, Trump’s tweets came back to bite him. Or, rather, serve him—because a lawsuit filed against the Education Department cited his tweets defending former White House secretary (and alleged serial abuser)Rob Porter as evidence of his administration’s discrimination against survivors.

Reports that Porter had abused his ex-wives surfaced in February, and by the time he left his position it became clear that White House staff had been aware of the accusations prior to the public. Trump, who hesitated to speak out after the initial reports, ultimately defended not only Porter, but also all men accused of abuse, on his Twitter account. One month earlier, a coalition of women’s and civil rights groups including the National Women’s Law Center sued the Education Department for its rollback of survivors’ rights, which has included raising the standard of evidence for students reporting assault and the requirement for universities to respond reports in a timely manner. Trump’s comments unilaterally defending men accused of assault, as well as his administration’s protections of both Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen (who also stepped down due to similar allegations), could now be considered evidence of his administration’s discrimination against sexual assault survivors.

Monday, 2/26

+ After serving as a senior White House adviser for about a year now, in a Monday interview with NBC, Ivanka Trump called questions about allegations of sexual misconduct against her father “inappropriate.” When asked for her stance on the more than a dozen allegations of sexual abuse against the president, she responded: “I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter if she believes the accusers of her father when he’s affirmatively stated that there’s no truth to it. I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters.” In other words: Ivanka called roughly 20 women reporting sexual misconduct liars on national television. (It’s no wonder in January she removed “a passionate advocate for the education and empowerment of women and girls” from her Twitter bio.)

+ Also on Monday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the separation of a Congolese woman and her seven-year-old daughter in two immigration facilities that are two time zones apart. The woman and her daughter had applied for asylum four months ago. According to the ACLU’s lawsuit, this is yet another case of the Trump administration’s targeting of immigrants who are lawfully seeking asylum. From his campaign to his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently espoused hateful, dehumanizing rhetoric and policy proposals about immigrants from nonwhite countries. This lawsuit, in addition to myriad reports of ICE separating families, demonstrates the real, lived consequences of his cruelty.

+ Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in New York ruled against the Trump administration’s pro-“religious freedom” policy Monday, deciding that employers can’t fire or discriminate against LGBTQ people. The court’s decision stated that discrimination against LGBTQ people is inseparable from sex-based discrimination.

Tuesday 2/27

+ The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it would be prioritizing pro-abstinence and “natural family planning” groups as it issues $260 million in Title X funding. In their announcement, the Department of Health and Human Services also wrote it will favor groups that teach strategies for preventing pregnancy without contraceptives—including abstinence-only programs and those teaching the unreliable “rhythm method,”  which HHS has previously found fails about 25 percent of couples seeking to avoid pregnancy. This announcement follows the administration’s rollback on the contraceptive mandate, through which more than 55 million women accessed cost-free birth control, saving women $1.4 billion annually.

+ A court ruled Tuesday that the Trump administration can move forward with the construction of a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Led by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the court ruled that the administration can continue to waive environmental regulations to construct the wall. Notably, President Trump once said Curiel would be unfair to him because of the judge’s Latino heritage and Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants. Prior to this ruling, numerous reports have demonstrated the ecological and environmental detriments of the proposed border wall—such as isolating and reducing populations of already endangered species of animals, and also destroying wildlife. It should go without saying that such anti-immigrant sentiment and the presence of such a wall would fuel the hardships faced by women and girls who are fleeing violence in Central America or facing separation from their families in detention centers.


Thursday, 3/1

+ Just one day after calling for “guns to be taken away,” Trump took a meeting with NRA representatives that he later tweeted went “great.” His post-meeting optimism was in sharp contrast with his criticisms of the NRA at a bipartisan Wednesday meeting. While this has all but become a norm of his presidency, on an issue as consequential and frankly life-or-death as gun control reform, his inconsistency and ignorance is dangerous.

Friday, 3/2

+ On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement calling Trump’s proposed budget, and its slashing of funding for SNAP, or food stamps, “deplorable.” The budget would cut $213 billion from the program which roughly 44 million Americans—about 70 percent of whom are children, senior citizens or people with disabilities—participate in. “Let me be clear, no child should ever go to bed hungry, which is why I am deeply concerned about the administration’s proposed changes to SNAP, our main program to save off hunger,” Schumer said. “This harmful proposal could mean that millions of families and seniors across New York and nationwide will lose access to desperately needed food assistance.”



Kylie Cheung writes about reproductive and survivor justice, and is the author of Survivor Injustice: State-Sanctioned Abuse, Domestic Violence, and the Fight for Bodily Autonomy, available Aug. 15.