Leaked White House Memo a Disturbing Policy “Wishlist” for Women

Leaked White House Memo a Disturbing Policy “Wishlist” for Women October 24, 2017

A document released by crooked.com which purports to be an internal White House document, if true, has disturbing implications for the administration’s reproductive rights agenda.

Much of the document covers previously anticipated policy positions like additional funding for school-choice programs, changes to unemployment benefits, increases to the VA program, and even the (not-so-terrible-for-once) support for NASA’s Deep Space Gateway. But implications for women’s reproductive health at-home and abroad are … problematic.

Overseas Initiatives:

PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, is an U.S. program that supports HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention initiatives internationally. According to the document obtained by Crooked the administration’s hope for the program is to split PEPFAR’s funding between treatment (which is good) and “sexual risk avoidance rather than risk reduction”.

Correct me if you think I’m wrong, but that would mean 0 funds for things like condoms and PrEP, but boat loads of money for things like “abstinence only education programs”.

The document also outlines a desire to:

Defund the United Nations Population Fund, which provides reproductive healthcare services for women in over 150 countries.

Defund UN-Women, which focuses on international gender equality issues

Make changes in USAID funding including dramatic cuts to the Let Girls Learn Program, the sole mission of which is to increase educational opportunities for adolescent girls abroad.

women's rights protest, New York
Image credit: Victorgrigas via Wikimedia (cc-by-2.0)

Stateside Programs:

“Teen Pregnancy – needs to be defunded as it has not worked, there is no positive evidence and some negative evidence. Instead we should work with adolescents on sexual risk avoidance and fertility awareness methods”

That one is pretty vague in terms of which programs it refers to but again “sexual risk avoidance” sounds an awful lot like “just tell kids to not have sex”, which we know doesn’t work. At any rate, if this document is legitimate, then pregnant teens can expect no help from this administration.

When I say ‘no help’ for women and children in need I mean no help. It also says they want to completely eliminate the Head Start Program, the sole purpose of which is to provide support for women and children in at-risk communities to reduce infant mortality and increase availability to neonatal care.

In a not surprising dig at Planned Parenthood the memo then suggests a 50% cut to Health and Human Services Title X programs, saying that money could be used to “fund childcare programs, or new fertility awareness programs for adolescents”. While childcare funding programs probably aren’t a terrible thing “fertility awareness programs”, yet again, sounds like just another way to promote abstinence only. Title X, of course, is the program that provides reproductive healthcare assistance to low-income Americans.

The last bullet on the memo is interesting in how innocuous it sounds before you dig into it. It says: “OCR: new conscience protection unit plus-up”. OCR is the Office of Civil Rights and the ‘conscience protection unit’ refers to Trump’s religious liberty executive order. The unit’s job is basically to defend religious right of denial of services by businesses and employees. Let’s be plain, it’s one thing when we’re talking about cakes, wedding photos, and invitations, but the real threats come from more crucial occupations like pharmacists that refuse to prescribe birth control and Catholic hospitals that refuse to perform tubal ligations.

All in all, if true, the memo is a somber reminder of just how far this administration is willing to go if allowed.

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  • I also saw a statement (oh please, make it false) that the Donald was suggesting ‘the rhythm method” known by Catholics as a built-in fertility
    clinic. I have two cousins who were on this, and between them they had 16 kids. This man is doggedly trying to turn this administration into something
    out of the 50s.

  • Hillary Allen (aka Canuck)

    Joni Mitchell has a line in one of her songs ‘who ya gonna get to do the dirty work, when all the slaves are free?! Who ya gonna get!” (Passion Play). Women with means have usually managed to get the health care and education they need… it is the poor who suffer from these type of rules. One must wonder why these white men are so keen on denying health care and reproductive rights to poor folks. Well, with for-profit prisons (the poverty-to-prison pipeline), and wars that need cannon fodder, plus low-pay no benefit ‘gig’ jobs that need bodies, the best way to ensure a steady supply of people with very few options is to keep them poor, with more kids than they can afford – easy pickings for prisons, wars, mcjobs. I just wonder what the thinking behind this administration is… any one else??

  • Thinking really doesnt enter into it, if you notice all of the Donald’s major statements, most of them are throwback ideas that were rejected in the 50s and 60s. Women’s right, health care, abortion, human rights; look at his ‘approval’ of the neo nazis and Klan. What he appears to be doing is reliving the glory days of the 50s when men were men and women were pregnant and kitchen bound. Sooner or later, at this rate, homes for unwed mothers will be springing up once more, since abortion will no longer be legal, nor will the pill be allowed.
    Beyond that, I havent a clue. Im not sure anyone does.

  • Wile F. Coyote

    Mysogonistic policies like these mentioned, and others not yet implemented, have little if anything to do with DT. This pre-modern era ideology is the direct will of the Christian Dominionist sector of the Republican Party, currently dictating US social/health policy. Donald Trump may or may not have paid an instant’s attention to any of this, including days he sat in meetings/briefings & signed authorizations following.

    Thought experiment: imagine what DT would do if he was twenty or thirty or so, and a female he lusted for at the moment told him she could never have unprotected sex except when observing the rythm method, and furthermore the only time she intends to engage in intercourse is when she and her husband are trying to create a child, because sex is for procreation only.

  • Oh no doubt Pence’s fingerprints are all over this nonsense.

  • Taya

    Reading this now, as these things are aggressively put into practice is something I can not describe fully… like watching a train wreck after watching it run down the track knowing it’s headed for a collision. Understanding that these desires can be put into practice, thus removing the possibility of hope that its all bluster is painful.