At the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence proudly proclaimed that “American Catholics have an ally in President Donald Trump.” But which Catholics really do have an ally in President Trump?
Is he an ally of Catholic women who want to have families? Is he an ally of the unborn? Trumpcare would blow up a critical part of the safety net that supports women who want to have families, protects unborn children, and assists the vulnerable in ensuring they have affordable access to essential healthcare.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) protected pregnant women from discrimination in the healthcare system by not allowing insurers to charge them more for wanting to have (or being open to having) children. The Affordable Care Act has made it easier for unborn children and their mothers to receive essential prenatal care. All of the regular prenatal check-ups, tests, and ultrasounds are covered at no extra cost to pregnant women under the ACA. Infant mortality rates are directly tied to access to quality preventive care for both the mother and child.
Allowing states to undo these protections not only risks increasing the infant mortality rates, it puts the lives of mothers at risk as well because without comprehensive preventative prenatal care, many diseases and conditions will go undetected and untreated. Regular check-ups for expecting mothers includes screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and other conditions like strep B, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia that could not only result in harm or death to the child, but result serious harm to the mother. Periodic ultrasounds, meanwhile, ensure the proper development of the child and allow doctors to check for any potential birth defects that can be corrected either in utero or with surgery immediately after birth.
Stripping away ACA protections for expectant mothers and unborn children discourages families from having children. This will almost certainly increase the abortion rate. Increasing premiums on women and families that want to have kids is an anti-family policy that punishes low income families, in particular.
Is Donald Trump an ally of the Catholic worker? President Trump signed an executive order that rolls back protections for workers, especially women employees. The Fair Wage and Safe Workplaces order “included two rules that impacted women workers: paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims.” President Trump has eliminated these protections.
President Trump has argued that wages are too high for America’s workers. His pick for the Secretary of Labor position, Andrew Puzder, opposes raising the minimum wage and wants to further cut workplace safety regulations. Labor unions see threats to collective bargaining and are increasingly worried about potential overhauls to labor laws and an increase in “right to work” legislation.
Is President Trump an ally to Catholics with disabilities? He has openly mocked people with disabilities. Potential cuts to Medicaid and decreased protections for those with preexisting conditions will disproportionately harm those with disabilities.
Is President Trump an ally of Catholic immigrants? He is certainly not an ally of the 11 million immigrants whom he wants to deport. He is not an ally of the immigrant families who will be broken up because of his policies. ICE raids are up 40% under Trump’s administration.
Is President Trump an ally of Catholics who desire protections for religious freedom? Don’t believe the rhetoric from the Trump White House; he is no friend of religious liberty. Trump has argued that he could round up and register Muslims living in the United States. He plans gross violations of religious liberty by using the power of the United States government to close down Mosques and places of worship that are “un-American.” His recent refugee ban, targeted at Muslim-majority countries, further demonstrates his lack of commitment to freedom of religion in America.
If he can target Muslims one day, why not Catholics who oppose his blatantly un-Catholic polices the next? Donald Trump shows an open disregard for the most vulnerable of people and basic democratic norms.
Catholics believe in government that is directed toward the common good of all in society. This is why Catholicism puts such a heavy emphasis on strong communities that are tightly bound together. But the common good is not just what is good for society as a whole, the common good starts and ends with the good of each individual person. It is because of this principle that we are obliged to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable members of society.
As Catholics, we have a serious obligation to protect religious and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, women, the unborn, workers, and immigrants. A true ally of Catholics would stand in solidarity with these groups, not target them.
No, Vice President Pence, President Trump is not an ally that Catholics can count on.