WASHINGTON — A group of House Democrats on Tuesday vowed to fight the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict women’s access to birth control and to eliminate federal funds for Planned Parenthood.
“What happens to women’s bodies should be our choice made with our doctor, not Donald Trump,” Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., said.
The news conference with Democrats of the Pro-Choice Caucus and new Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen came one day after a U.S. district court judge issued a nationwide injunction against Trump administration rules that would restrict women’s access to free birth control. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide insurance coverage for contraception, but the new rules would allow them to opt out of the requirement on moral or religious grounds.
“Your boss does not get any veto power over any other medical procedure, so why should this be any different?” Chu said.
Dr. Leana Wen, who became the president of Planned Parenthood in November, said universal access to reproductive health care is fundamental, but that women’s health issues are “siloed, stigmatized and attacked in a way that no other aspect of health care is.”
She described Trump administration policies in particular as “anti-women, anti-health and anti-family” and expressed concern with Attorney General nominee William Barr, referring to a 1992 CNN interview in which he called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
Melanie Israel, research associate at the conservative Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, said in an interview that pro-life policies like those advanced by the Trump administration are not about taking away contraception from women but about “allowing people who object to not be complicit in those choices.”
“We have no reason to believe the sky is going to fall if an organization like March for Life doesn’t want to give money to fund birth control,” Israel said.
Democratic representatives also attacked the Mexico City policy, or “global gag rule,” which blocks federal funding for organizations that offer abortion counseling or support expansion of abortion services outside of the U.S. The gag rule was first adopted by President Ronald Reagan.
In January 2017, President Donald Trump both reinstated and strengthened the policy — two days after the Women’s March on Washington.
“We intend to fight aggressively, to reverse the terrible decisions made by the Trump administration,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said the new Democratic majority in the House is determined to protect access to birth control and other women’s health issues. She described the historic diversity of newly elected members as indicative of “a new era of reproductive rights.”