BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Trump signed legislation focused at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions. While I wish I could say this was a surprising move, it was not. What is even more awful about it is the fact that it was done almost in secret. Which highlights the fact that if you must do something on the down low, you probably shouldn't be doing it at all.
As the Times stated, this ruling "nullifies a rule completed in the last days of the Obama administration that effectively barred state and local governments from withholding federal funding for family planning services related to contraception, sexually transmitted infections, fertility, pregnancy care, and breast and cervical cancer screening from qualified health providers."
The worst part about this is the fact that it makes it a state-by-state decision, which means that massive inequalities will result, in that liberal states may not strip PP's of funding, whereas conservative states will, thus causing imbalance within the country as a whole. This means women, especially low-income women, in conservative states will not have safe and reasonable access to abortion - which is the very demographic that PP largely helps.
For instance, while New York state as a whole may not be affected as hard, considering it's a blue state, states like Texas will not be so lucky, as clinics are blocked from getting Title X money, which is the 1970 law that created the federal family planning program, which is ironic, considering PP wasn't using federal money to fund abortion specifically, as it is illegal to do so (and has been for years).
The horrible part is the fact that this doesn't just affect abortions, but women's health in general, as PP provides cancer screenings, birth control, and STD/STI tests. Once again, this means Trump is targeting marginalized communities, using religion as a reason (which is unconstitutional to begin with, considering there is supposed to be a separation of church and state). This essentially insinuates that if you're a woman, your health doesn't matter. Because this isn't just about abortion (which is bad enough), it's about women's health - and if a woman doesn't have access to affordable cancer screenings, for instance, we all know what that means.
So why state-by-state? As per the Times, "State courts have ruled against such restrictions for Medicaid reimbursements, but since Title X money is distributed through grants to states, they have the power to set criteria for recipients."
I don't have to tell you how bad this is, but all I will say is that we can, and should, exercise our freedom of speech rights by protesting (whether that means organizing a rally, teaching a class, etc), it's time to speak up. And speak loudly.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016) and the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of Joanna's writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.