Colleges need to protect women’s rights

The election of President-elect Donald Trump has raised concerns for a number of groups consistently targeted by Trump’s rhetoric and policy proposals, many of which infringed upon the civil liberties of racial and ethnic minorities, throughout the election season. But Trump’s comments about women, from their appearances and roles in the workplace, to what acts constitute sexual assault, were particularly concerning. Despite the misogynistic undertones of Trump’s campaign, 53 percent of white woman voters cast their ballots for him. Like many of Trump’s followers, his female supporters were largely disinterested in social issues. But now that we have elected Trump, it’s important to understand what this means for an issue as critically important as reproductive choice, which arguably affects university women and their livelihoods more than any other demographic.

Though President-elect Trump has yet to comprehensively outline his plans for the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, he has stated on numerous occasions his intent to repeal many parts of the law, which established a public, affordable marketplace of insurance plans. According to 2014 estimates by the Guttmacher Institute, under the ACA, 67 percent of insured women were paying $0 for birth control pills. If women’s health care services are among the facets of Obamacare Trump and his Republican colleagues intend to scrap, in addition to likely cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, which widely offers free or affordable birth control, low-income women and female college students will be disproportionately affected.

In recent years, House Speaker Paul Ryan has led numerous attempts to defund the women’s health organization. Vice President-elect Mike Pence defunded Planned Parenthood while serving as Indiana’s governor, leading to the closure of numerous clinics that did not even offer abortion services, contributing to a mass HIV outbreak in one county. In addition to it being entirely possible that the many young women accessing contraceptive coverage through the ACA, it’s likely that they could lose access to free contraceptive coverage from Planned Parenthood as well.

While exact statistics about the rate of hormonal and long-term birth control use among university women are not available, Guttmacher notes that in 2010, 80 percent of women with sexual experience have used or were using the pill, while 62 percent of women of reproductive age were using a birth control method. Wider access to birth control, likely through ACA options, has notably reduced unplanned pregnancy and abortion rates among young women in recent years, rendering anti-choice politicians like Trump, Pence and Ryan’s subtle crusade on birth control coverage counterproductive. And along with attacking access to contraception, Trump and Pence have both expressed interest in the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Despite the ultimate unlikelihood of this, states like Texas and Indiana with predominantly Republican legislatures are already floating highly restrictive bills.

Many young women attending universities are not employed and reliant on either the health care plans of their parents, their college’s student health care plan, coverage by the ACA or Planned Parenthood for birth control. They are justifiably concerned about their reproductive futures as they pursue higher education in the years to come. Without access to their most fundamental right to take control over their bodies, in addition to the academic stress of attending university, female students will also have to struggle with the anxiety of how to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

For decades, birth control has enabled women to pursue ambitions outside of the domestic sphere, namely making attending college possible for young women. Access to reproductive choice speaks to whether women are perceived by their elected officials as autonomous human beings with the right to pursue academic and professional careers, or objects to be imprisoned by biology and patriarchy. Under the Trump administration, our elected officials have made their perceptions of women clear. And now more than ever, universities across the nation, like the University of Southern California, must stand with the female members of their student body.

At USC, the Women’s Health Team at Engemann Student Health Center offers Long-Acting Reversible Contraception and emergency contraception to insured students, according to its website. With the ACA soon to be dramatically scaled back, USC must speak to how it will keep student insurance plans affordable and crucial services protecting reproductive choice accessible to female students, through all the potential decisions on women’s health care funding the Republican Congress and Trump administration make in the years to come. If USC and other American universities across the nation respect their female students and truly wish to protect their educational prospects, colleges will lay out plans to address female students’ justified concerns with their right to bodily autonomy in the years to come.

4 replies
  1. Rose
    Rose says:

    You seem to think you speak for all women, but 42% of women voted for Trump (and over half of white women, as you pointed out). America has been more pro-life than pro-choice since 2012. Even a year ago a poll from liberal-leaning CNN reported that 58% of Americans are pro-life and oppose abortion (not” anti-choice” as you incorrectly state. Respect the terms unless you want to be called “anti-life” or “pro-death”). This narrow-minded assumption that everyone agrees with the opinion of the louder minority is only dangerous to yourself when. Americans will let you blare away and quietly undertake changing the system. This is how Trump got elected.
    And if 62% of women are on birth control, that means 38% of women choosing not to be sexually active (including myself – a college student, how shocking) are paying with our tax dollars for your birth control. How is that fair? If anything “health care” for women should look at providing sanitary care for menstrual cycles etc., as that is a huge issue in impoverished communities that affects far more than 62%.

  2. BostonTW
    BostonTW says:

    I have two options to avoid unwanted pregnancy: 1) Regular church attendance and 2) Abstinence. The first will help you with the second. Wait until marriage, for goodness sake.

  3. Lunderful
    Lunderful says:

    What are your specific fears over a single person? Do you actually think he will use his “pen and phone” to decree measures that destroy our liberties? Put your childish sensitivities aside and think while placing a premium on reality.

  4. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    Not sure where you are getting your information, though I suspect it is from alt-left organization and the New American Socialist Party bureau of disinformation. There is nothing about Trump that is offensive to women and minorities. Read his platform and plan for America. Hillary Clinton has proven to be more anti-women than Trump.

    As for the birth control issue, do not mix up women’s rights for birth control options and abortion. They are different and unfortunately should not be related in any way, shape or form. There are over 20 options for birth control that do not provide for the ability for the mother to kill her baby, just because she wishes it so.

    Be responsible for yourself and use proper methods of birth control. Abortion is not to be used as birth control. It is a medical procedure to be used, depending on the baby’s term in the womb, to save the mothers life, if and only if, her life is in jeopardy. Late term abortions and partial birth abortions are horrific, violent and evil acts, and which Hillary Clinton is in favor.

    The alt-left has brainwashed generations of American Kids since the late 1960s, and the American people have finally spoken. We have had enough of leftist lineralism doctrine runnjng our country, cities and education systems. It has been a long time in coming, but now we have spoken and are takin back country. The left leaning steering of I ur country his in the beginning stages of straightened our our path throught this new Era of the USA. All engines full speed ahead. Do not divert from the stated goals of Making America Great Again. –

    And here’s wishing you and all USC students safe travels home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
    … Fight On .

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