Friday Femorandum: Nevertheless, She Persisted

A man once deemed too racist to serve as attorney general is now… attorney general, a woman who says she doesn’t know anything about schools is now in charge of the Department of Education, and a cartoon villain who thinks “not one woman” has ever lacked the funds to pay for birth control has now been entrusted with our health care system.

Everything is terrible, but at least we still have Elizabeth “nevertheless, she persisted” Warren to give us a bit of hope in the dark anti-science wasteland that is the current presidential administration.

I think Melissa McEwan of Shakesville put it best:

But back to Trump’s appointments. Betsy DeVos, a major Trump donor who has contributed generously to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-choice group Focus on the Family, has “compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to ‘advance God’s Kingdom,'” according to Politico. After you consider the chilling implications of that statement for comprehensive sex education in public schools (not to mention the anti-science backlash implied by the phrase “advance God’s Kingdom”), read this Refinery29 piece about what Devos’ appointment could mean for investigations of rape and sexual assault on public university campuses, which DeVos will also oversee.

As head of the education department, DeVos will be in charge of enforcing Title IX, the law that says schools can’t discriminate against students because of their gender. Title IX has been used to ensure that girls’ sports are funded, but it’s also the law that ensures that campuses take rape allegations seriously. Title IX says schools must remove rapists from campus if a victim requests it (as opposed to, say, moving victims to a different dorm); conservatives oppose this because, they say, it violates the rights of men accused of rape. DeVos has financially supported an organization that actively fights against the way colleges enforce Title IX, and advocates for survivors worry what she’ll do now that the interpretation of these rules is essentially up to her.

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Meanwhile, the Sessions appointment, along with a decision by the Trump administration to rename and shift the focus of its “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) program to focus exclusively on “Radical Islamic Extremism,” rather than homegrown terrorism, is terrible news for abortion providers. Rewire notes that the decision to ignore terrorism by right-wing extremists and white nationalists will likely have “devastating impacts” on abortion providers targeted for attacks, and send a message to antichoice extremists that they can attack clinics and providers with impunity.

“Because of Sessions’ past vehement opposition to abortion, Vicki Saporta, the president of the National Abortion Federation, said that the organization has ‘serious concerns about the safety of abortion providers’ under Sessions,” Rewire reports. “Meanwhile, one of the country’s leading anti-choice extremists, Troy Newman, has said that he ‘could not be happier‘ about Sessions possibly heading the DOJ.”Image result for everything is terrible gif

Finally, Price may be the biggest threat to women’s reproductive freedom in Trump’s cabinet. Price opposes access to contraception, has repeatedly called for defunding Planned Parenthood, has supported radical abortion bans as a Republican Congressman, and believes companies should have the right not just to deny their employees coverage for birth control or abortion but to fire women who have used birth control or had abortions on the grounds that these personal medical decisions violate the employer’s freedom of religion.  Nonetheless, the US Senate approved his nomination early this morning 52-47, with no Democrats voting in favor of the appointment.


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