Trump's arrival in office accelerated activism
Massive increase in Planned Parenthood donations
After a political novice with a controversial past with women rose to victory over the first woman to ever be a major political party’s presidential nominee, more than a million people mobilized for one of the largest inauguration weekend protests in history.
Less than 24 hours into Donald Trump’s presidency, people in the nation’s capital and worldwide protested the newly inaugurated US leader – some among them crushed by Hillary Clinton’s loss, others worried about Vice President Mike Pence’s anti-abortion stance, others outraged about Trump’s rhetoric on women and some motivated by a combination of those concerns and more.
Since that day, the Women’s March group has rolled out its own set of action items, titled “10 Actions, 100 Days,” which included the Day Without A Woman strike early last month. In that same stretch of time, involvement in other women’s organizations has skyrocketed. Now, as the President marks his first 100 days in office, many involved in that movement are assessing progress and preparing for what’s next.
An immediate election impact
Emily’s List, a group that supports Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights, has heard from over 11,000 women seeking a path to political office since Election Day.
As of January 23, VoteRunLead had trained 5,000 women to run for office over a two-year period – 2,300 of those trainings were in the two months following the election.
“Something switched,” VoteRunLead founder Erin Vilardi told CNN in January.
The Republican-held Congress and executive branch have also garnered attention from women’s groups for their anti-abortion actions, such as the reversal of the Mexico City Policy, which removed funding to NGOs that perform or promote abortions, and cuts to funding for the United Nations Population Fund, a program for women and girls, over abortion.
Trump has also added abortion critics, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and Pence, who spoke at the March for Life the week following the Women’s March in his first major address as vice president.
Mallory Quigley, the communications director for the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List, called Trump “incredible for the pro-life movement.”
Planned Parenthood – also a Women’s March partner – has had more than 600,000 new individual donations since November 8.
“The general theory here is ‘stand up, fight back,’ and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing,” said Dawn Laguenes, the executive vice president and chief brand officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Beyond a beltway breakthrough
The fight over women’s issues isn’t exclusive to the beltway. With an eye on the 2018 midterm elections, more people are joining grass-roots efforts across the country.
Over a thousand Arizonans signed up to become new volunteers at Planned Parenthood since the election, while at least 36,000 people turned out to women’s marches in downtown Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, according to the organization.
One of Arizona’s most vocal Planned Parenthood advocates, 17-year-old Deja Foxx, confronted the state’s Republican Sen. Jeff Flake at a town hall, and questioned his stances on Planned Parenthood and Title X funding.
“I was really, really angry I felt, because he kept dodging us at rallies,” Foxx said. “It just seemed as though we were being ignored. And I don’t want to be ignored by someone whose job it is to represent me.”
The Susan B. Anthony List garnered more than 40 anti-abortion groups to support Gorsuch after his nomination, focusing on states including Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Pennsylvania and Florida – where Senate Democrats are up for re-election in 2018, according to Quigley.
“Susan B. Anthony List and its partnered super PAC, Women Speak Out, spent more than $18 million in the 2016 election cycle, knocking on more than 1.1 million doors in battleground states to defeat Hillary Clinton and maintain a pro-life Senate,” a news release from the Susan B. Anthony List said.
A list released by the White House that outlines Trump’s first 100 day accomplishments cites his actions on women in entrepreneurship and space exploration.
However, many have also criticized Trump for policies involving women.
Trump’s actions inspiring activism
In April, Trump signed an executive order that revoked an Obama-era policy that made companies with federal contracts comply with 14 civil rights and labor laws, an action that opponents say undid victories for women in the workplace. The President also privately signed a bill that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood.
Foxx credits Planned Parenthood with helping her navigate the health care system and providing her with quality reproductive care and education. Her care is completely covered by Title X, the only federal grant program dedicated to comprehensive family planning and preventative health care.
“I am first and foremost a Planned Parenthood patient, that’s the background that I come from, and that’s one of the things that makes me feel passionate about this work,” Foxx said.
A mother of two, Lori Hawkins, has used Planned Parenthood since college because of what she calls the organization’s “kind and competent” health care. A screening at Planned Parenthood led to the discovery of damaging tumors and cysts on her ovaries that, if uncaught, would have prevented her from having children.
Hawkins, who lives in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin district, decided to become more involved after attending a meeting in her community, where she connected with a Planned Parenthood representative. Hawkins then participated in a press conference in Kenosha with the group’s president, Cecile Richards, and other users of the group’s health care services. The next week, she traveled to Washington, DC, for Planned Parenthood’s lobby day.
“My daughter said to me, ‘Mom I really want to go to Washington, DC, with you.’ And I thought oh of course you do, it’s time away from school, and I said jokingly, ‘Well why do you want to go to Washington, DC?’ And she said, ‘Because I want to have the opportunity to sit in Paul Ryan’s office and let him understand that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Planned Parenthood.’ “
She says going to Washington is just the beginning of her work for Planned Parenthood.
“I’m just not afraid of standing up for Planned Parenthood, and for what I believe in,” she says. “I’ve even gone so far as to sign up for some trainings to be more savvy on speaking out in public, and you know, maybe running for office one day, or becoming a lobbyist. It kinda just lit a fire under me.”