NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—In 1913, on the eve of President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, Alice Paul and the National American Woman Suffrage Association took to the streets of Washington D.C, in the most reliable and oldest form of protest there is, marching.
This historic parade attended by 8,000 marchers, demanded that the President grant Women the right to vote.
Strides for women have reached beyond that historical moment, ignited by the empowering addition of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, which asserted the female voice within the political sphere.
Yet, major obstacles still stand tall, especially now that women’s bodies abroad as well as women’s bodies at home are at risk of being controlled by the new man in the White House.
Nearly a century after Alice Paul’s historic march, familiar energy and demands took to the streets of Washington on January 21, the day after Trump’s Inauguration.
An estimated 4,956,422 marchers marched in 673 marches around the globe. Marches occurred in multiple cities within every U.S state.
In total, the global Women’s Marches were attended by 619 times more people then Alice Paul’s Parade.
Though reactionary anti-Trump protests and marches bubbled, hundreds of thousands stood in solidarity with one another in support of women’s rights in the streets of the nation’s capital.
At the heart of the issue for many women is the right to contraception and abortion, and the constant targeting of organizations that provide those services.
Within Trump’s first few days, an executive order banned U.S foreign aid to nongovernmental organizations working overseas to provide abortions, or even information about abortions.
But many fear that Trump also wants to turn back the clock on reproductive rights here in the United States, fears that were stoked by many Trump campaign statements that appeared to express an interest in deconstructing the progress for immigrants, women, and other oppressed peoples achieved over recent decades.
According to the 2015 Status of Women in the States, a project developed by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR ) and other organizations including the Ford Foundation, the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, and the Center for American Progress, research documents gender inequalities from state to state.
Within New Jersey, the research shows that:
- A woman who works full-time earn 80 cents to every dollar a similarly employed man makes
- Women hold 30% of the seats in state legislature
- Approximately 28.8% of those working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in New Jersey are women, which means, men are 2.2 times more likely than women to work in STEM jobs.
- There is only only one woman of color from NJ in the U.S. Congress, and no statewide elected officials that are women of color.
- If current trends continue, women in New Jersey will not see equal pay until the year 2055
Could these harrowing findings fester into even worse conditions for women under President Donald Trump’s rule?
Planned Parenthood (PP) notes that approximately 60% of their patients “access health care at its health centers through publicly funded programs like Medicaid or [the Title X Family Planning Program].”
Claire Jehle, a former user of PP’s services notes, “defunding Plannned Parenthood would be an absolute distater. Planned Parenthood provides so many important preventative services at a cost that is accessible to people who cannot afford to maintain health insurance or pay out of pocket expenses to go to a regular clinic.”
New Brunswick’s Congressman agrees that the organization is one that needs support, not cutbacks.
“More than 100,000 New Jersey residents are served each year by Planned Parenthood’s 26 health centers in our state, nine of which are located in Medically Underserved Areas. It is our responsibility to step up and stand with Planned Parenthood,” said Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat.
But none of that has stopped Republicans in Congress from working fervently to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides affordable health insurance to roughly 20 million Americans.
According to the US Census Bureau, before the ACA was adopted in 2009, about 48.6 million or 15.7% of the population was uninsured.
A 2015 study by the Center for Disease Control cited on the Obamacare website used census data to show that the uninsured rate has fell from 15.7% to 9.2% under the law, making for the lowest uninsured rate in 50 years.
Having health insurance is a major determinant of whether or not people can access healthcare, including reproductive care.
But the same right-wing politicians looking to undo the ACA law are also fighting for cuts to programs like Medicaid, a healthcare program for Americans with low incomes.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, has also proposed that federal subsidies should no longer be spent on healthcare providers that offer abortions, such as Planned Parenthood.
If such legislation “defunds” Planned Parenthood, it will immediately block thousands of people from accessing care at their health centers.
According to PP’s website, only 3% of their work goes towards abortion. The rest of their work services pap smears, breast exams, HIV and STD tests to women, men and teens.
Their 650 health centers reportedly provide birth control for 2 million people, as well as over 4 million STD tests and treatments, over 360,000 breast exams, over 270,000 Pap tests, every year.
PP also provides educational programs and outreach to 1.5 million young people and adults every year.
The organization estimates that it prevents approximetly 579,000 unintended pregnancies each year.