Donald Trump has named Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. His record, which includes a dissenting opinion on a 2017 case involving a teen migrant who was seeking an abortion, leads experts to believe it’s only a matter of time before Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion, is overturned or new laws put in place that change the scope of its protections. This not only would affect women and girls who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy, it would have widespread impacts on U.S. economics, health care, society and culture. Everything from crime rates to dating norms would be affected. Here’s how.
First, A Little History
Roe v. Wade was a 1973 ruling decided by the Supreme Court. That means all 50 states are governed by this decision, which states that women and girls have the right to a safe, legal abortion without undue restrictive interference from the government. It is considered part of an individual’s right to privacy, which falls under the 14th Amendment. However, in many states, government does interfere, through a variety of individual rulings and restrictions, most imposed within the past 10 years, making abortion effectively illegal for many of their residents. Such rulings have led to the closure of clinics that provide safe and legal abortion; restrictions on health care providers; restrictions on access to information about the procedure; and restrictions on who is eligible to receive abortion services, and when, and after what series of interventions or delays. In 2017 alone, 19 states passed 63 abortion restrictions. Since 2012, 400 laws have been passed to restrict access. Six states have only one abortion provider, which means patients have to travel hundreds of miles; in states like South Dakota, that doctor has to fly in from another state. Therefore, abortion remains only legal in theory in places where it is in practice impossible for many women to access it.
A new Trump administration rule, now under review at the White House budget office, would bar organizations that mention abortion, refer patients elsewhere for abortions, or provide abortions under their roofs from receiving Title X funding. Title X is a federal program that provides at least $260 million a year for contraception, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and other reproductive health services to millions of low-income people.
The rule, known by abortion rights advocates as a “gag rule,” is aimed at Planned Parenthood, which congressional Republicans are determined to defund, despite that no federal funds are used to pay for abortions, and many Planned Parenthood clinics offer only birth control, STD treatment, and other reproductive health care, such as cervical and breast cancer screening.
Could male contraception finally become a reality? That is what a group of Australian scientists believe; that a safe and effective method of male contraception will become available- a method that is free of significant long-term side effects.
For a long time now, the onus of contraception has been placed solely on females. In recent years, attempts have been made to bridge the gap in responsibility between men and women. In 2016, NPR reported that a study focusing on a male contraceptive in hormone form was essentially killed, after men in the study reported a plethora of side effects as a result of the hormone injection.
Smartphone apps do a lot of things these days. They can turn on your home thermostat, test your blood-alcohol content, and even diagnose car trouble. One thing they apparently can’t do, however, is eliminate human error from processes that require consistent decision making. Such as birth control.
You may have heard of Natural Cycles, the fertility app designed by Swedish physicists. It was the first app in the world to be certified by the European Union as a form of contraception, and as of late 2017 had more than 600,000 users in 160 countries. Based on an algorithm using a woman’s basal body temperature to predict fertility, Natural Cycles was reported to have an effectiveness rate around 93 percent — comparable to that of the oral contraceptive pill.
Friday, a federal judge temporarily blocked a Trump administration rule allowing almost any business to cite religious or moral beliefs to opt out of the federal requirement to cover contraception under employee health plans.
U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia sided with the plaintiff, the state of Pennsylvania, which argued the rule harmed working women and forced the state to shoulder the costs of birth control and unplanned pregnancies.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a law Monday protecting free birth control in the state, while the Trump administration whittles away the ObamaCare requirement for insurance coverage of birth control without a co-pay.
This legislation will ensure no woman in Massachusetts, irrespective of what goes on in Washington, will worry about whether her health care services and rights will be affected here in the commonwealth."
Baker, a Republican, previously suggested a temporary moratorium on new health insurance mandates. Asked about that during the signing ceremony, Baker said moratoriums provide a way to put in place a process before any new mandate is passed to ensure people know what it will cost.
According to a leaked memo, the Trump administration wants to replace reliable birth control methods with "fertility awareness." But the so-called rhythm method fails women 25% of the time.
White House officials wrote they intend to slash funding to the U.S. Agency for International Development's family planning budget. The Trump administration already signed a memorandum to cut funding to any organization providing, advising or educating about abortion. In addition to "equal funding" for fertility awareness, the memo further specifies fertility planning as the sole birth control method for young girls.