Yvonne Ridley: Abortion law shows how Trump is turning the Oval Office into a locker room

CommonSpace columnist Yvonne Ridley says President Donald Trump has no understanding of women's welfare

THE new US president is a self-confessed sexual predator, serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist and misogynist but I thought even he would show some restraint when he entered the White House earlier this week.

However, within a matter of hours the Oval Office looked more like a locker room for the sort of white, privileged men Donald Trump likes to hang out with.

And to prove it, posing like masters of the universe, they gathered around the "free world's most powerful man" smirking as he signed off on a piece of legislation which will put a wrecking ball through global healthcare and rights for some of today's most vulnerable women.

He has reintroduced a gag which bans US-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion.

He has reintroduced a gag which bans US-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion. As a direct result of this legislation in the Trump locker room, thousands of women around the world will die and millions more will lose access to birth control and safe abortions.

All of this less than 48 hours after millions of women around the world were joined in solidarity by men, to march against the inauguration of the most rightwing US president in the country's history. 

Rather predictably, my old boss, TV personality Piers Morgan (we worked at The Daily Mirror), who frequently calls Trump a friend, said the global protests were "vacuous" and attracted "rabid feminists". 

How rewarding it was, therefore, to learn that Perth-born Scot Ewan McGregor refused to appear on Good Morning Britain less than an hour before he was due on set because of Morgan's disparaging comments about the Women’s March against Donald Trump. We need more honourable men and women prepared to make such stands.

As a direct result of this legislation in the Trump locker room, thousands of women around the world will die and millions more will lose access to birth control and safe abortions.

What we also need is for Prime Minister Theresa May to grab Trump by the baws on Friday and give new meaning to the non-existent 'special relationship' which most of the mainstream media fantasises about. OK, so that's not going to happen, but it would be refreshing if a Brit PM refused to be so servile. 

As it is, women's healthcare groups have now been put in an untenable position by Trump and it will lead to needless deaths and an erosion of women's rights in countries where female empowerment is more vital than ever.

The Guardian's editor at large, Gary Younge (and my new best Twitter friend), summed up the image perfectly when he inserted this caption: "First 'grab them by the pussy' Then get rid of their reproductive rights. The Oval office: the world's most powerful locker room."

 

 

Younge was referencing the now infamous 2005 tape recording which emerged last year when then Republican candidate Trump boasted about using his fame to try and "fuck" women, and of groping them without waiting for their consent. Obtained by the Washington Post, Trump bragged on the tape: "When you’re a star they let you do it ... You can do anything."

Trump immediately released a video statement and made an unprecedented apology. "Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it. I am wrong. I apologise. I’ve never said I am a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I am not. I’ve said and done things I regret and the words released today on this more than decade-old video are one of them," he said.

Well, in his first week in office Trump has proved one thing - he has a long distance understanding of women's needs and wants and he is also barn door thick when it comes to women's welfare whether it is in America or beyond.

Ronald Reagan in 1984 first introduced the controversial ruling on US non-governmental organisations working abroad which forbade aid workers from discussing birth control or advising on pregnancy terminations. Since then, incoming presidents have used the legislation to signal their positions on abortion rights.

In his first week in office Trump has proved one thing - he has a long distance understanding of women's needs and wants and he is also barn door thick when it comes to women's welfare whether it is in America or beyond.

Trump, an outspoken abortion opponent, signed the reinstatement directive at a ceremony in the White House on his fourth day in office. The news was greeted with dismay by Serra Sippel, president of the Centre for Health and Gender Equity in Washington, when she said: "Women's health and rights are now one of the first casualties of the Trump administration."

As has happened previously, what can be expected is that Trump's new order will result in unsafe abortions and the loss of female life. So in future, if NGOs operating overseas want funding from the US Agency for International Development they will be banned from offering abortion services, counselling or referrals.

"It is appalling to dictate to civil society groups and health care providers how they can spend their own money and force them to withhold from women critical information about and access to the full range of reproductive health care," said Nancy Northup, president of the US-based Centre for Reproductive Rights.

Picture courtesy of Alachua County

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