Early this morning, Donald Trump, a megalomaniacal buffoon with an open history of misogyny and alleged sexual assault, who has said that women should be punished for getting abortions, was elected president of the United States.
It's a shocking result, and one that shows how little we as a country value women. We don't care about the women Trump has subjected to cruel, puerile verbal abuse; we don't care about the women he has allegedly groped, intimidated, and sexually humiliated; we don't care about the women he has sworn to strip of basic bodily autonomy.
A Trump presidency threatens to undo more than 40 years of progress around reproductive rights—a fact the electorate was well aware of. During his candidacy, Trump pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, to strengthen the discriminatory laws that prevent poor women from affording abortion care, and to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade "automatically."
These aren't empty threats made by a bloviating, unqualified white man in a seemingly implausible quest for political office: He won. And though Trump completely lacks political experience, his running mate, Mike Pence, is one of the most horrifically virulent anti-choice politicians in the country. Pence's political career is marked by a disturbing, single-minded devotion to eroding women's bodily autonomy—he introduced the first-ever bill to defund Planned Parenthood, he cosponsored legislation that would demand full constitutional rights for every fertilized human egg, and he recently signed into law a bill that would require abortion providers to arrange funerals for fetuses.
Reproductive rights activists fear that Trump's victory could strike a devastating blow to decades of advancement in the feminist movement, putting women in direct and real danger. "Our country now stands perilously close to a return to the dark days when women were forced to put their own lives at risk to get safe and legal abortion care," Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northup said in a statement.
Andrea Miller, the president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, echoed this sentiment. "Trump's belief that women who have abortions should face punishment and his promise to appoint anti-choice Supreme Court justices, coupled with Mike Pence's extreme track record of legislative attacks against women's health and rights, imperil the health and lives of women in every state," she said.
Although this extreme anti-abortion agenda will threaten women across the country, poor women and women of color will disproportionately suffer. These are populations that already struggle to access reproductive health services, due to a spate of recent Republican-backed bills that place substantial logistical and financial burdens on women seeking abortion care. Such laws have forced hundreds of clinics throughout the country to close, and they've drastically increased the costs associated with getting an abortion—effectively making the right to choose a luxury that only certain populations can afford.
Trump's victory assures a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, meaning that anti-choice lawmakers could now be empowered to attack abortion directly. If they succeed, this could leave many women with a horrific choice: to turn to illegal, unsafe methods for terminating their unwanted pregnancies, or to endure forced childbirth. Before abortion was legal in the United States, statistics show, as many as 1.2 million back-alley procedures took place annually. Five thousand women died per year as a result. This is the world our future president wants us to revert to, all the while insisting that "nobody has more respect for women than I do."
But all isn't lost. For reproductive rights advocates, the election results are a call to action, revealing how important the ongoing battle for choice is—and how much work we have left to do. "We know the fight for our values isn't won or lost in a single election," said NARAL president Ilyse Hogue in a statement, noting that the pro-choice organization was founded "before legal abortion was even possible in the United States."
"We as an organization and as a progressive movement exist to fight for the dignity and equality of all Americans," she continued. "We hold the line—in good times and in bad—to defend the freedoms that are enshrined in our constitution and that define what it means to be American. That mission is as urgent today as it has ever been."