What the Election of Donald Trump Could Mean for the Future of Women's Health
No matter how you voted, here's what you need to know right now about your rights and your healthcare
In the wee hours of the morning after a long, long night (goodbye, a.m. workout), Donald Trump emerged as the winner of the 2016 presidential race. He captured 279 electoral votes beating out Hillary Clinton in a historic race.
You likely know the headlines from the real estate mogul's campaign: immigration and tax reform. But his new status as president will impact much more than that, including your health care.
While Secretary Clinton vowed to strengthen President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA)-which covers the costs of preventative services like birth control, cervical cancer screening, and breast cancer genetic testing-Trump has suggested repealing and replacing Obamacare "very, very quickly."
It's impossible to say what will actually happen when Trump moves into the Oval Office in January. For now, all we can do is go off of the changes he has suggested he'll make. So what could the future of women's health in America look like? A glance below.
Birth Control Costs Might Rise
Under the ACA (often called Obamacare), insurance companies are required to cover the costs of eight women's preventive services, birth control included (with exemptions for religious institutions). Should Trump repeal Obamacare, women might be paying a hefty price to prevent pregnancy. IUDs (intrauterine devices) like Mirena, for example, can cost between $500 and $900, including insertion. The Pill? That could set you back more than $50 a month. This will hit the wallets of lots of women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nationwide, 62 percent of women ages 15 to 44 are currently using contraception.
Another change: During an appearance on Dr. Oz this September, Trump said he disagreed with birth control being prescription only. He suggested that it be sold over the counter. And while this may make for easier access, it would likely do little to cut costs.
Access to Late-Term Abortion Might Be Eliminated
Although openly pro-choice in the late '90s, Trump revealed in 2011 that he had changed his mind; a decision spurred by a friend's wife who decided not to abort a child. Since then, he's waffled between wanting to ban abortions in the U.S. and limit access to late-term abortions. To ban abortions, he'd have to repeal Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized them nationwide. Doing so would first require nominating a new justice to the Supreme Court to replace the late conservative Justice Anthony Scalia.
What's more likely? That Trump might restrict access to late-term abortion, meaning those performed at 20 weeks or later. Considering that 91 percent of abortions occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy (and little more than 1 percent make up these post-20-week terminations), this change would affect a much smaller number of women. But it's still a change that impacts the way (as well as when) a woman chooses to make decisions about her body.
Paid Maternity Leave Might Become a Thing
Trump says he plans to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave for new mothers, a number that-while it may sound small-is actually six more weeks than the U.S. mandates now. He's also said that same-sex couples will be included if their union is "recognized under the law." But such a statement was concerning-leaving some wondering if it would include single mothers. Trump later told the Washington Post that he plans to include single women, but he didn't explain why the legislation would include a marriage clause.
Although this extension of mandatory paid leave would be a welcome change in America, which ranks dead last on that issue worldwide, Trump's plans may also create obstacles to women obtaining the health care they need during pregnancy, eliminating coverage of important supplements like folic acid and failing to cover screening for things like gestational diabetes.
Planned Parenthood Might Disappear
Trump has vowed over and over again to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides sexual health care, education, and support to 2.5 million Americans every year. In fact, one in five women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood.
The organization relies on millions of dollars in federal funding which Trump plans to eliminate. This could have far-reaching effects on women nationwide, and especially on populations who can't afford reproductive health care elsewhere.
And while Trump has been outspoken about Planned Parenthood as it relates to abortion, the organization doesn't focus exclusively on that procedure. In a single year, according to its website, Planned Parenthood provided 270,000 Pap tests and 360,000 breast exams for women at reduced rates (or at no cost). These procedures allow women without health insurance to be screened for life-threatening conditions like ovarian, breast, and cervical cancer. Planned Parenthood also performs more than 4 million tests for sexually transmitted infections each year-and provides treatment for many of them free of charge. A loss like this may leave many women unable to afford such services.