The Trump administration is poised to undo what it believed it accomplished on behalf of conservative Christians when President Donald Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
That appointment kept the court from taking a leftward turn and puts the political holy grail for conservative Christians – overturning or Roe v. Wade – within reach if another seat is vacated before the 2020 presidential election. But the administration’s assault on objective reality and its embrace of alternative facts is about to threaten decades worth of progress on the abortion front.
A proposed revision of the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act would make it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of women to get protection. The mandate saved women more than $1 billion in birth control costs in 2013. Between two-thirds to 75 percent of women using contraception, to better plan pregnancies or manage other medical concerns, have benefited from the rule.
The Trump administration plans to roll back those protections. But its rationale for the change is worrying. In the 34,000-word proposed change reviewed by The New York Times, the administration claims that there is no “causal link” between the major drop in unintended pregnancies the country has experienced in recent years to an increased use of contraception. It also claimed increased contraception use has meant more early sex. That’s telling because a sizable body of evidence has shown a strong link between contraception use and a slowdown in the rate of unintended pregnancies – which has led to an unprecedented drop in the abortion rate. Also, young Americans are waiting longer to engage in sex than previous generations.
In February, we warned about this possibility, that pro-lifers who held their noses to vote for a man who spent a lifetime thumbing his nose at their most-cherished principles might be in for a rude awakening if Trump dismantled of Obama-era health access policies.
During the Obama era, the abortion rate dropped to an all-time-low. The number of annual abortions fell to below 1 million for the first time since the 1970s, even as the population grew. The teen pregnancy rate extended its two-decade-long decline. Increasing the number of Americans with comprehensive health care – and affordable contraception – played a vital role in those trends.
There’s been much said about the Trump administration’s embrace of “alternative facts.” Those complaints soared when Trump used dubious scientific claims while announcing his withdrawal from the Paris climate change pact. And let’s not forget the administration also recently attempted to render the Congressional Budget Office – the non-partisan arm of the federal government created to keep legislative claims honest – irrelevant in its bid to sell the health care reform bill.
Conservatives may have (unwisely) shrugged those off as hyper-partisan attacks on Trump and other Republicans. Now that the administration is using the same tactics to undermine progress on abortion, maybe more conservatives will demand the administration adhere to objective reality, even when it delivers truths they’d rather not believe.