Chances are you’ve seen either photos or news reports from Saturday’s Women’s March, which brought out millions not only in Washington, D.C., but around the United States and the world.
The reactions I’ve seen have been mixed. Many are celebrating the march, which was both a protest of Donald Trump as president and rallying cry for women’s rights.
Others were either wondering why or were in clear opposition to the march.
What do women’s rights and a Trump presidency have to do with one another? Well, Trump hasn’t been the most female-friendly political candidate.
We’re likely now all aware of the infamous “locker room talk” from Trump, which has shaken a lot of people, and especially a lot of women.
Those who have been sexually assaulted, or those who feel passionately about the topic of ending sexual assault, are left feeling the man now holding the most powerful seat in our nation is one who may not embrace the best interests of women.
What doesn’t help is that according to a report by The Hill, among the first budget cuts Trump’s team plans to make is funding, either partially or entirely, for the Violence Against Women Act.
The act helps fund domestic violence programs across the United States, and in the grand scheme of the national budget is barely a drop in the bucket. It’s hard to see the negative of keeping the program around, but it’s easy to see the negative of cutting.
Domestic violence programs are already underfunded across the country — even with the act in place, according to annual census data from the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
The data shows that from 2015, nearly a quarter of 1,752 participating national programs reported reduced government funding and 14 percent reported reduced private funding. That led to 12 percent of those domestic violence organizations reducing jobs.
“Across the United States, 1,235 staff positions were eliminated in the past year,” the census summary report said. “Most of these positions (79 percent) were direct service providers, such as shelter staff or legal advocates. This means that there were fewer advocates to answer calls for help or provide needed services.”
Part of the problem with how many viewed the march relates directly to one word. Abortion.
Abortion has again become a hot-button word when it comes to the left and right debating women’s rights. For many of the women marching, a pro choice stance is one they likely carry.
Those who aren’t on the pro choice side are clearly turned off by that, but you have look at what else those who marched were marching for.
It wasn’t just about pro choice on Saturday. Women were marching for equal opportunity in the work place and for funding for programs like the Violence Against Women Act.
They were also marching against an executive order signed by Trump reinstating a policy from the Ronald Reagan presidency that blocks federal funding for any international family planning agencies that provide or promote abortions.
Here’s the tricky part of this conversation. The order has been praised by many as an “anti-abortion” action. The problem is the money going to these programs was not funding abortions. This order simply means that any organization that even uses the word in their reporting can lose funding.
What is being taken away by this order is not funding for abortions, but for things like pap smears, which help detect cervical cancer, birth control for people trying to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and many other women’s health services for those who cannot afford them.
Taking away the ability to obtain birth control for those not wanting a pregnancy will arguably lead to more abortions worldwide than would have been the case prior to the order.
So when women, and many men, marched on Saturday, many marched for a reason.