War on Women Report: This Week’s Attacks from the Trump Administration

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.


Since Our Last Report…

+ In the months since our last War on Women report, Trump has continued to use Twitter, Facebook, press conferences and other outlets to degrade and demean women professionals. We have repeatedly seen his sexist and disrespectful comments towards women reporters—especially women of color.

On April 3, he described White House correspondent Weija Jiang as having a “nasty tone” for asking a pressing question. He also later described Francesca Chambers as “being so horrid” at a press briefing about COVID-19. And in the past, CNN’s Abby Phillip asks “a lot of stupid questions”; ABC’s Cecilia Vega “never thinks.” His descriptions of women reporters tend to be far more critical than those of male reporters, demonstrating an inequality in his treatment and actions towards women.

+ Reproductive rights have faced major challenges the past few weeks. On January 16, the Trump administration proposed a “religious liberty” regulation that would effectively eliminate protections for many to access safe reproductive health services. The proposed regulation would remove the requirement that religiously affiliated, government-funded groups must inform individuals of substitute providers.

Current requirements mandate that religious social service providers receiving federal funds educate women about alternative, often secular, organizations that provide legal abortions in their area. Supporters of the policy indicate that the requirements ensure women’s health and safety. But under the Trump refusal policies, health care workers would be permitted to deny services such as birth control and abortion to female patients. Women and LGBTQ people are especially likely to lose access to care. 

+ Under the Trump administration, the State Department took actions that disadvantage pregnant women traveling to the United States. On January 23, it announced a regulation aimed to deny pregnant women abroad visas for travel to the U.S. in an effort to prevent birth tourism. Add this policy to the growing list of actions taken by Trump and his administration which limit and disadvantage immigrants and non-U.S. citizens.  

+ Trump’s attack on reproductive rights has also manifested on a global scale. On February 11, the Trump administration announced it would drastically cut funding for international family planning and reproductive health programs for fiscal year 2021. This is the fourth year in a row the Trump-Pence administration has reduced funding for these programs, and is representative of the administration’s trend towards reducing reproductive resources for women around the globe.

War on Women Report: This Week’s Attacks from the Trump Administration
A May 2019 “Stop Abortion Bans” rally in St Paul, Minnesota. (Lorie Shaull / Flickr)

+ On February 24, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals voted to uphold the Trump administration’s domestic gag rule on Title X, the United States’ program for affordable reproductive health care. The rule stipulates it is illegal for any provider under Title X to inform patients of safe access to abortion, and imposes physical separation restrictions on facilities that provide abortion.     

+ John Barsa, the acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), on May 18 called for the removal of references to sexual and reproductive health from the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan. Barsa argued the UN was using the coronavirus pandemic to promote abortion as essential health care—which it obviously is.   


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Friday, June 5

+ Trump continued his frequent attacks on women political leaders—this time, against DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose actions from demanding Trump remove federal law enforcement and military from DC, to condemning Trump’s response to the protests, have shown her commitment to her community in the weeks following George Floyd’s death.

In a series of tweets, Trump called Bowser “grossly incompetent and in no way qualified to be running an important city like Washington.” His disrespectful and degrading remarks continue to create a toxic political climate that alienates and belittles powerful and successful women political leaders.  

Sunday, June 7

+ Throughout his presidency, Trump has utilized Twitter as an avenue to attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, labeling her with demeaning titles that emphasize fragility and hysteria—common misogynistic tactics. Trump called Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb “a weak puppet of crazy Nancy Pelosi.”  

Later that day, in a separate tweet, Trump again attacked Speaker Pelosi.

Wednesday, June 10

+ The Trump administration proposed stricter qualifications for migrants seeking protection from persecution in their home countries. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s issued guidance aims to essentially end asylum in the United States. This fundamental and devastating decision puts immigrant survivors of gender-based violence in further danger without access to help and shuts the door to safety completely. Effectively, this policy would make gender-based claims and domestic violence nearly impossible to establish.

Immigration experts—like Mary Giovagnoli, former DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Immigration Policy under the Obama administration—say this particularly devastating, xenophobic and misogynistic decision from the Trump administration is more of the same:

“For the past three years, the Trump administration has been systematically dismantling the asylum system, with a particular emphasis on creating an eligibility framework that ignores the dangers women face around the world, such as gender based violence and oppression or the heavy price women and families pay in opposing gang violence in Central America. Most recently, the administration proposed new regulations that would make it virtually impossible for a woman to raise a gender based asylum claim or for people fleeing persecution from individuals protected by the state, but who aren’t government officials, to receive protection. This rule would also create new barriers to seeking asylum that are almost impossible to overcome, such as requiring people to apply for asylum in any country they passed through to get to the United States and making ridiculous assumptions about whether people are firmly resettled in another country just because they spent some time in that country on their way to the United States.  In essence, the Trump administration has pre-judged most claims, declaring that if you are an asylum seeker from Central America, for instance, your fears based on domestic, gender, or gang based violence simply don’t count as persecution and therefore you have no protection in the United States. It’s not only a cruel departure from the American humanitarian tradition, but is in direct violation of U.S. law and international treaty obligations.”

+ Trump announced he would begin his public campaign for reelection on June 19 in Tulsa, Okla. His announcement and planned action represents an inherent disregard for black individuals and a dog-whistle to white supremacy: June 19, commonly known as Juneteenth, is a holiday that marks the effective end of slavery in the United States, and Tulsa was the site of one of the nation’s most devastating racist massacres in 1921.

Women leaders are urging Trump at the very least to change the date of his announced Oklahoma rally, which he later did. Sen. Kamala Harris responded to Trump’s announcement, “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists—he’s throwing them a welcome home party.” 

Rep. Val Demings similarly stated, “The president’s speech there on Juneteenth is a message to every Black American: more of the same.” 

And Sherry Gamble Smith, president of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce (named to commemorate the black community that whites burned to the ground in 1921), noted, “To choose the date, to come to Tulsa, is totally disrespectful and a slap in the face to even happen.”


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About and

Jenna Ashendouek is an editorial intern at Ms. and a student at Tufts University pursuing a BA in International Relations with a minor in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies.
Marissa Talcott is a rising sophomore at Claremont McKenna College majoring in Philosophy and Public Affairs. She is a Ms. editorial and social media intern.