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Imagine that you are a 19-year-old, girl fresh out of high school with her whole life ahead of her. It’s your first year on your own at your new college. You are looking to meet new people and make new experiences. One night when you are out with friends and the next morning you wake up in a puddle of puke. You shrug it off thinking that you must have drunk too much. A month later you miss your period and start to panic. You run to the drug store and get a pregnancy test. It comes back positive even though you haven’t been with anybody in a couple of months. What do you do? Who do you talk to? You come to find out that the nearest clinic that provides abortions is over 100 miles away, but you find that there is a clinic down the street. You go there and they give you a lot of really good information about pregnancy but when you ask about abortion, they say that they are unable to refer you anywhere. You do some more research and find a place called a Crisis Pregnancy Center. They invite you in and seem like they are genuinely willing to help. They provide you with information about the dangers of getting an abortion and seem trustworthy. They tell you that if you get an abortion that you will have difficulty getting pregnant in the future and that you could even get breast cancer. Moreover, that it could severely affect your mental health. Additionally, that your only option is to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. Now you are an 18-year-old girl is confused and pregnant with limited options and access to actual help. Vice President Mike Pence spoke at March for Life on January 27, 2017. He made it clear that he and the Trump administration intend to end federal funding for abortions and any facility that presents them as a family planning option. Not only on American soil but also abroad. As an alternative, they intend to send young women to facilities that lie to and mislead women into keeping unwanted pregnancies. Vice President Mike Pence and the Trump administration believe that this is how the women’s healthcare system should be, but it is clear that their intent is to limit women’s access to legitimate healthcare options, accurate information about family planning and general facts about reproductive health.
March for Life is a pro-life organization that hosts a rally every year to push their position. In 2017 they allowed Vice President Pence to speak at their event. According to a White House Press release of his speech he begins with a short introduction then quickly moves into his main talking points. He starts by quoting the declaration of independence. Declaring the “unalienable rights” laid out by this nation’s founding fathers. Furthermore, he goes on to state that this nation no longer follows these principles because of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. This statement shows that the Vice President is not a supporter of women’s right to a safe and legal abortion. It shows that he does not believe under any circumstances that any women should have that as an option; even if a woman is raped or under fear of death. He goes on to say that not only does he believe this but also that Donald Trump —the President of the United States of America — believes it as well. Moreover, the President personally requested that the Vice President be at March for Life. Pence continues on to say that the President has reinstated the Mexico Policy; a policy that has been used to silence foreign organizations funded by the federal government who provide or even present abortions as an option. Additionally, he carries on by saying that they want to end taxpayer funding on American soil as well. Most concerningly, he states that the administration wants to nominate justices for the Supreme Court that are pro-life. He persists by saying “life is winning in America for many reasons” and then goes on to support that by affirming why. He suggests that “life is winning” because faith-based organizations are lying and misleading women into not having abortions. Afterwards, he moves to his conclusion.
Vice President Pence and the Trump administration want to end taxpayer funding for any organization that is linked with abortions. Pence states that “this administration will work with congress to end taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers, and we will devote those resources to health-care services for women across America”. According to Sarah Varney from Kaiser Health News, one of the ways the trump administration intends to do this is through a program called Title X. Additionally, clinics that are funded through this program are not allowed to use funds for abortion procedures. Moreover, many of these clinics do not even present these procedures as an option. More importantly, the Title X Program is currently led by Dr. Diane Foley. Previously before her current appointment, she was the chief executive of a Christian organization called the Life Network. Her previous organization operates a network of anti-abortion centers. Under her direction, the Trump administration intends to put rules in place that directs federal funds to “clinics that do not offer condoms, hormonal contraception, intrauterine devices or abortion”. Facilities like these are meant to be an alternative to Planned Parenthood. Albeit, they offer many necessary services like “tests for pregnancy, STIs, HIV and cervical cancer and prenatal care”. However, in some cases, the only contraception information provided by these facilities are methods for fertility planning. Fertility planning is a way to prevent pregnancy through period tracking and abstaining from sex when most at risk for pregnancy.
As a result of polices that are put in place by the trump administration that intend to limit access to abortion, women are losing their right to an abortion and other necessary health services. Many cities around the country are in what many consider an abortion desert. Meaning that patients would need travel vast distance of more than 100 miles in order to find a legal and safe facility that can provide abortion services. Especially in states like Texas, where in 2011, 80 family planning clinics closed as a result of a drastic reduce in state funding for family planning. Consequently, women are finding it difficult to find advice and access to contraception as well. Women are being put in a difficult situation when it comes to their sexual health and many fear that as a result of Trumps plans; clinics across the country will continue to close from lack of funding. Leaving only Title X funded clinics that only offer abstinence for women looking for family planning methods. Some are even leaving the country as a last resort to get access to contraception.
The Trump administration is pushing its anti-abortion agenda domestically and abroad. Pence announced, “…President Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy to prevent foreign aid from funding organizations that promote or perform abortions”. The Mexico City Policy was initially implemented by the Reagan Administration in 1984. Its stated purpose is to ensure that federal funds are not received by foreign nongovernment organizations who “perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning”. Conversely, the policies true effect is seen as a “global gag rule.” Its true purpose is to restrict certain types of services, such as abortion and other important information that a healthcare provider who receives U.S foreign aid can offer patients. Additionally, much like the Title X program, it also limits access to contraceptives and other family planning services. Moreover, the policy will likely hurt those that it initial was intended to help.
What does Vice President Pence want women’s health care to look like? He eludes the answer when he states, “Life is winning through the compassion of caregivers and volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers and faith-based organizations who minister to women, in cities and towns across this country”. What are Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs)? According to a House Oversight and Reform Committee, they are pro-life organizations that aim to coax women into becoming mothers or put their babies up for adoption instead of getting an abortion. As well, they may also provide other services to help unintended mothers. Unremarkably, a large number of these CPCs are faith-based organizations whose main goal is to minister — not to provide healthcare. CPCs are funded primarily by government programs and federal funds. Funds coming from programs like the abstinence only education fund. Staggeringly, between 2001 and 2005 CPCs received over $30 million from the federal government that was distributed to more than 50 CPCs nationwide (Government Oversight and Reform Committee).
Although many of these crisis pregnancy centers are run by faith-based organization, their intent is not altruistic. Many CPCs hide their true intent in order to get people through the door. Often disguising their pro-life agenda and advertising under abortion service categories on the internet and in phone books. They also advertise that they present pregnant women with an “Understanding of all of their options.” Additionally, they have phone lines that women can call in which they try to convince women that coming into their facility is the best option. Yet, they will only present pro-life options (Government Oversight and Reform Committee). These over the phone services are not presenting woman with all the options that are available. Their only goal is to get women into their facilities so that they can persuade and sometime scare them into not having abortions.
The misinformation doesn’t stop when women enter the door. The report from the Government Oversight and Reform Committee (GORC) states that, “the centers provide false and misleading information about a link between abortion and breast cancer.” The GORC informs that in fact, medical experts agree that there is no link between breast cancer and abortion. Regardless, many of these CPCs consistently lie to women and suggest that the risk is drastic in order to scare them. CPCs almost imply that all women who have abortions get breast cancer. Another key point that the GORC made was that “the centers provide false and misleading information about the effect of abortion on future fertility.” CPCs assert that women who have abortion will commonly not be able to have children in the future. The GORC positions that there is no increased risk for women who use common abortion procedures during the first trimester. This is another tactic that CPCs use to terrify women into not getting abortions, but the lies don’t stop there. The GORC additionally confirms that “the centers provided false and misleading information about the mental health effects of abortion.” The GORC emphasizes that psychological trauma after an abortion is no different than that of live birth. Nonetheless, CPCs compare the psychological trauma experienced by abortion receivers to those who have PTSD from returning from war. CPCs lie and terrify woman that are in a very sensitive position into choosing an option that might not be best for them because they are told that it is their only safe choice. Sadly, the lies and misinformation doesn’t stop there. The GORC also stipulates that most of most of the health information provided by CPCs was wrong. Including information about the effectiveness of condoms and disease. Even their information about pregnancy prevention was wrong. CPCs are providing misinformation about basic reproductive health because they are trying to pass off their religious beliefs as facts. What is even worse is that the Vice President of the United States is willing to fund these lies and support this kind of medical misconduct. Even when the United States Government — the government that the Vice President leads — has proven long before Trump administration has reached the office, that these facilities are untrustworthy and manipulative.
Vice President Pence has made his intentions clear through his choice words and policy. He intends to end funding for clinics that provide or refer out for abortions, but does he understand the effects of reduced funding on women’s overall healthcare? He intends to cut funding to foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions, but does he intend to limit women’s access to accurate healthcare information? He endorses organizations like Crisis Pregnancy Centers, but does he support their dishonesty and malintent? The answer is beyond reasonable doubt — yes. He has shown through programs such as Title X, that the Trump administration intends limit women’s access to a large variety of family planning options other than abortion. He has shown through his backing of the Mexico Policy that he wants to use foreign policy and funding to control what people say about abortions. Most concerningly, he has shown through his support of Crisis pregnancy centers that he believes that women should be tricked and misinformed into not getting a potentially necessary healthcare procedure. Through beliefs and practices, he has shown that he does not believe woman should have a choice at all. Moreover, he believes that women are better off misinformed. In the beginning of his speech he mentions the “unalienable rights” laid out by the Declaration of Independence to fit his narrative. Of these rights, are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Does he not believe that women’s lives matter? Does he believe women should be able to live happy lives? Does he believe that women should have the freedom to choose?
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