Trump's First Year Was Terrible For Women — Here's Why

Almost exactly one year ago, Donald Trump was sworn-in as the 45th president of the United States. The day after his inauguration, millions of women took to the streets to protest the new president — among other things — and what they believed to be an agenda that would hurt women.

Turns out, their anxiety over Trump's future policies was not exactly unfounded.

In the first 12 months since Trump took office, his administration has swiftly undone years of progress for women. Everything has been on the chopping block in one way or another: women's healthcare, protections against workplace discrimination, efforts to close the gender wage gap, crucial aid to help women and girls across the globe, and much more.

Besides all the dangerous legislation and policies of the last year, the president has also gone out of his way to bring aboard extreme conservatives to everything ranging from his Cabinet and the Supreme Court to different federal agencies and the lower courts.

"This year has proved that the Trump administration has no interest in protecting women’s health and our basic freedoms, and if there was a way to give them anything below an F, I would," Kaylie Hanson-Long, the national communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Refinery29. "Just this week, Trump released an executive order that gives medical practitioners the license to discriminate against patients and turn a person in need of care away. From ripping healthcare away from millions of Americans, to attacking our essential birth control, Trump’s attacks on women’s health are actually putting people’s health, rights, and lives in real danger."

And even though some the worst fears have not become true (Roe v. Wade hasn't been overturned, same-sex marriage is still legal, not all anti-discrimination protections for women have been rolled back) it's been a tough year all-around.

We might not be Gilead yet (from the Handmaid's Tale), but the Trump administration is setting us back by generations. Ahead, a look at why President Trump's first year in office has been a disaster for women in the U.S. and abroad.

Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images.
JANUARY

Reinstated the Global Gag Rule: Trump reinstated the Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy. The Reagan-era rule blocks international organizations that offer abortions from receiving federal funding. The 1977 Hyde Amendment already blocks the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. What the policy does is force organizations between dropping abortion-related care (including offering the procedure, counseling, and referrals) in order to receive the funds, or refusing to do so and seeking other sources of funding to continue providing a wide range of women's health services. The policy is expected to drive up abortion rates, as it happened when the policy was reinstated under Bush.

Nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court: One of Trump's main campaign promises was to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. In late January Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the seat left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Like his predecessor, Gorsuch is a conservative justice and "originalist," which means he interprets the U.S. Constitution almost exactly as it's written. Gorsuch is the most conservative justice on the bench right now.
Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images.
FEBRUARY

Tom Price is confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary: Before taking the lead at the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price represented Georgia at the U.S. House of Representatives. As a congressman, he repeatedly voted to defund essential health services and restrict abortion access, opposed the Affordable Care Act and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and even said there's no women who don't have access to birth control. Even though Democrats were concerned he would do away with critical government programs, he was confirmed by the Senate.
produced by Erin Yamagata; modeled by Hoku Gepp; photographed by Nicolas Bloise; modeled by Steve Doss.
MARCH

Revoked an Obama-era fair pay policy: Trump signed an executive order rolling back the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order. The policy, created by President Obama, required all companies with federal contracts to comply with 14 wage, labor, or workplace safety laws. The measure also included two specific rules meant to protect women: It required companies to observe paycheck transparency and to get rid of forced arbitration clauses when it came to allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or gender discrimination. Advocates said that by rolling back the order, Trump went on an "attack against workers and taxpayers."
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images.
APRIL

Defunded the United Nations population fund: The State Department stopped offering federal funding to the United Nations Population Fund. The organization provides reproductive healthcare in over 150 countries and its main goal is to help ensure healthy and planned pregnancies. The UNPFA does not offer or promote abortions.

Allowed states to defund clinics that offer abortions: Trump signed a bill allowing states to withhold Title X family planning funds from health care providers that offer abortion-related care. Thirteen states used to withhold the Title X money from abortion providers before the Obama administration blocked them. (Because of the Hyde Amendment, federal funds can't be used to pay for abortions, so the Title X money went to other health services at those clinics.) The legislation allows them to withhold the funds again and redirect them to providers that don't offer abortion services.

Budget proposal slashed foreign aid: In his proposal for the 2018 budget, Trump suggested merging USAID with the State Department and cutting its funding by about a third. USAID operates in about 100 countries. The cuts would force the organization to eliminate about 30 of its field missions and also slash global health funding in at least 40 countries. Those funds go to programs supporting maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and other crucial healthcare initiatives. Trump's budget proposal also completely eliminated the Office of Global Women's Issues, which worked to "promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls through U.S. foreign policy."

Anti-abortion activist is appointed to the Health and Human Services Department: Trump tapped Charmaine Yeost, former president and CEO of Americans United for Life, for a senior communications position at the Department of Health and Human Services. Americans United for Life is an anti-abortion organization that has been crucial in helping advance legislation at the state level that restrict access to safe and legal abortions.
Photo: Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto/Getty Images.
MAY

Supported the House version of the Obamacare repeal: Trump supported the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — the first Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. About 23 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 if the bill became law. Among other things, the legislation allowed states to choose whether insurers should cover essential health benefits and charge more for preexisting conditions. The bill also defunded Planned Parenthood for a year and blocked federally subsidized health plans from offering abortion coverage.

Expanded the Global Gag Rule: The Trump administration widely expanded the reach of the Global Gag Rule. Under the Reagan and Bush administrations, the ban applied to $60 million in programming. But Trump decided to apply the policy to a total of $8.8 billion in existing foreign aid provided by the State Department, USAid, and the Department of Defense.

Longer budget proposal defunded abortion providers: Trump's budget proposal expressly withheld funds from Planned Parenthood or any health provider that offers abortions — except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life.
designed by Ly Ngo.
JUNE

U.S. withdrew from the Paris climate deal: Following through with one of his biggest campaign promises, Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Not only pulling out of the deal meant the U.S. won't follow trhough with its pledge of reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions, but also it signified a bigger point: The administration doesn't care about the environment, or how climate change disproportionally impacts low-income women.

Abstinence advocate is appointed to to the Health and Human Services Department: Trump chose Valerie Huber, an advocate for abstinence-only education, to be the chief of staff of Don Wright. As assistant secretary for health, Wright was in charge of the Office of Adolescent Health, which oversees sex education programs, including funding teen pregnancy prevention initiatives.

Agency eliminated protections for LGBTQ+ workers: The Department of Commerce removed gender identity and sexual orientation from the list of categories protected under its equal employment policy.
photographed by Ashley Armitage; modeled by Caitlin Engler; produced by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez; produced by Megan Madden.
JULY

Supported the Senate version of the Obamacare repeal: Trump supported the Better Care Reconciliation Effort (BCRA) — the second Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. This Senate bill would leave at least 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. Like the House version, the bill defunded Planned Parenthood and states could allow insurers to not cover essential health benefits.

Cut funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs: The administration slashed two years off of five-year grants dedicated to teen pregnancy prevention research, which were given to organizations nationwide by the Obama administration.
Photo: Getty Images.
AUGUST

Eliminated policy aimed at helping close the gender wage gap: The Trump administration scrapped an Obama-era policy that would make businesses collect pay data by gender, race, and ethnic groups. The purpose was to identify which employers have pay inequality issues, but the administration argued that it posed a burden to businesses.

Banned transgender people from joining the military: One month after tweeting that transgender individuals shouldn't serve in the military, Trump banned trans recruits from enlisting through an executive order. The policy was met with several lawsuits, brought by several groups representing both transgender men and women. (Several federal courts ruled against the Trump administration and the Justice Department dropped its appeal, so trans recruits were able to enlist starting in early January.)
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images.
SEPTEMBER

Ended DACA: The Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Obama-era policy protected about 800,000 Dreamers or undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. About 1 in 4 DACA recipients have kids who are U.S. citizens, according to recent studies. That means about 200,000 children currently have a parent who is at risk of deportation because of the Trump administration's decision to end DACA.

Rescinded the Obama-era Title IX guidance: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally scrapped the Title IX guidance established by the Obama administration on how colleges should deal with sexual violence allegations on campus, a move that was a clear setback for sexual assault survivors.

Supported Obamacare repeal: Senate Republicans made a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act before some procedural rules expired. The Graham-Cassidy bill, supported by the president, was rushed so abruptly that it was unknown how many more people would become uninsured if it passed.
photographed by Ashley Armitage; produced by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez; produced by Megan Madden; modeled by Sebastian Rosemarie.
OCTOBER

Issued a new religious liberty guidance: Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a sweeping religious liberty guidance, instructing agencies to prioritize claims of a violation of religious freedom over the concerns for the rights and anti-discrimination protections of LGBTQ+ individuals, women, and other minorities.

Rolled back civil rights protections for transgender individuals: Sessions also issued a memo to federal prosecutors, in which he said that the 1964 Title VII civil rights law banning workplace discrimination on basis of sex is not applicable to transgender or gender non-conforming workers.

Partially rolled back the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate: The Health and Human Services Department issued a new regulation partially rolling back the Obamacare birth control mandate. The move made it for employers to claim they have religious or moral-based objections to contraception, in order to drop coverage of co-pay free birth control from their health plans.

Blocked undocumented teen from obtaining an abortion: The Trump administration tried to stop an undocumented teenager, known as Jane Doe in court documents, from getting an abortion. Even though the teenager obtained a state court order in late September allowing her to go forward with the procedure, federal officials refused to transport her or temporarily release her so her attorney could take her to a clinic. A federal appeals court ended up ruling in her favor and she was able to obtain the procedure.
Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
NOVEMBER

Nominated Alex Azar as Health and Human Services secretary: Former HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned in late September amid a controversy over the use of taxpayer-funded private planes. President Trump nominated Alex Azar, a former HHS deputy secretary and former top executive at Eli Lilly, as his replacement. Like his predecessor, Azar is opposed to the Affordable Care Act. He also supports the Trump administration's decision to make it easier for employers to drop co-pay free birth control from their health plans if they have religious or moral-based objections to contraception.
produced by Erin Yamagata; modeled by Khalea Underwood; modeled by Melerie Uribe; photographed by Rachel Cabitt.
DECEMBER

Endorsed Roy Moore: Trump formally endorsed Alabama candidate Roy Moore — despite the credible child molestation and sexual assault allegations against the Republican and the bigger #MeToo cultural moment. (Moore ended up losing the special election.)

Passed the Republican tax bill: Trump and Congressional Republicans obtained their first major legislative victory of 2017 by passing the GOP tax code overhaul. The legislation has some changes that are expected to impact low-income and working women specifically.

CDC banned from using several words: The Trump administration forbade the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using words such as "fetus" and "transgender" in the official documents for the agency's 2018 budget.
produced by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez; photographed by Tayler Smith.
JANUARY

Established conscience-based protections for health workers: The Health and Human Services Department introduced a new rule that would allow health workers to opt out of performing procedures or providing services if they have religious or moral objections. Advocates fear that the rule would allow health workers to deny care to LGBTQ+ patients, refuse to perform abortions or provide birth control, and opt out of providing services like end-of-life care.
Load more...