Typically a State of the Union address is used to announce new initiatives and to rally support for proposed legislation, but to little surprise, Trump spent much of his time talking about his accomplishments over the past year. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech was markedly different from State of the Union addresses we are used to hearing from past presidents, but it was also quite different from what we have come to expect from our 45th president too. It was clear that he was trying to appeal to both parties, and had made some compromises on some of his policies in order to appease both sides. This is unlike his typical foot-down approach, and I personally found it slightly refreshing coming from him. Trump was able to give us some insight into what types of initiatives he will be rolling out soon, including some surprising proposals, such as a plan to attempt to end new HIV cases in America by 2030, and some less surprising ones, like a call to end late-term abortions.
Just last year, Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 included a $35 million cut to domestic HIV/AIDS research and $1 billion in cuts to global research, so his recent support is being reviewed by many public health officials who are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote, that we have “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the epidemic, thanks to the most powerful HIV prevention and treatment tools in history and new tools that allow us to pinpoint where HIV infections are spreading most rapidly.” Azar goes on to say, “thanks to new laboratory and epidemiological techniques, we are able to focus in on geographic regions in greatest need of additional resources.”(AZAR) Trump’s plan aims to target counties that have the highest numbers of newly infected patients by supplying them with increased access to preventative medicines and antiretrovirals.
Many of the people who have spoken in support of Trump’s initiative, titled Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, have also been the main ones suggesting that more must be done in order to reduce global AIDS numbers. Matt Kavanagh, director of the Global Health Policy & Governance Initiative at Georgetown Law, spoke to NPR, stating that the administration’s new domestic policy of using the vast amount to public health research that has been done on the HIV epidemic to find the most concentrated spots of outbreaks is what we need to also be focusing on at a global level. ‘The strategies are the same,’ he says. ‘We have more and more data on where transmissions are happening. But there’s no money to expand, so we end up really losing ground.’ (MCDONNELL)
It has also been stated by Kevin Osborne, executive director of the International AIDS Society. That president must look deeper into other ways. He is impeding the global aids fight, such as by reinstating the “global gag rule”, which blocks federal funding to clinics that offer information on abortions, even though most of those clinics also offer many services for people who are at risk of, or in need to treatment for HIV. (MCDONNELL)
Despite stating several times throughout. His campaign that he was pro-choice (SOURCE). Trump has spent his presidency advocating for stricter abortion laws. And in his State of the Union speech. The president asked Congress to support legislation to end late-term abortions. “There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days,” he said. “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.” (MCDONNELL) The president was referring to a new law recently which changes the rules allowing late-term abortions from “threatening the life of the mother” to threatening the life or health of the mother”. In response to this new law, Republicans in the House of Representatives have drafted up a bill that would require medical care for babies who survive failed late-term abortions, and according to the Washington Post writer Sean Sullivan, the Senate is working on a similar bill. Sullivan writes, “At a closed-door luncheon on Wednesday, Cruz told his colleagues the Senate needed to vote on a bill that Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) put forward Monday that closely resembled the House measure, according to two Republicans familiar with the meeting.” (SULLIVAN) The president has also received commendation from groups such as Americans For Life, who stated Trump may be “the most pro-life president in American history.” (REILLY)
Senate Democrats blocked the bill Monday, and in a statement released by Patty Murray’s office. The Senator stated, “all this bill does is give Republican politicians more ways to try to interfere with decisions that are between a woman and her doctor.” (SULLIVAN) Many women who have had late-term abortions have stood up against Trump’s comments, stating that late-term abortion is not something that a woman would do unless it was medically necessary or if the fetus wasn’t viable. Kurzweil, a New York City woman who a 23-week abortion in 2017, stated that she was forced to make an “impossible choice” after being informed that her baby had a brain disorder that would have caused him immense pain for his entire life. “No one wakes up 20 weeks into a gestation period and says ‘I made a mistake.’ These are wanted pregnancies.” She continues, “It really was this choice of quality of life and what is a livable life.” Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an obstetrician-gynecologist and board member of Physicians for Reproductive. Health says she is worried that “[Republicans are] using. These theoretical extreme examples to try and scare people.” And that their concerns about women getting abortions while in labor are unfounded. (REILLY)
I think that the President’s goal for eliminating new cases of HIV in America by 2030 is very admirable and very doable, but first, he must realize that he is impeding his own goal by being so anti-abortion. Many of the abortion clinics that he has blocked federal funding to are the same clinics that offer services such as Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PreP, which greatly lowers the chances of contracting HIV in groups that are high risk. I think it’s extremely important that we keep abortion safe a legal. At all stages, for all women. Because is never an easy choice. And if we can’t trust women to make this decision themselves. We can not say we are “empowering women”, as Trump stated he was many times in his State of the Union.
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