Donald Trump's Candidacy Could Have Devastating Consequences for Women

Trump's policies are likely to harm women. A Trump presidency — if it happened, and surely, we should know not to underestimate the man given what occurred in the primaries — could be devastating for women. He has promised to rescind the Affordable Care Act, which mandated all health insurance policies cover more essential care for women such as birth control, maternity care, and mental health services and, as of last year, had provided approximately 7.7 million women with health insurance plans. He has embraced a newly minted "pro-life" platform and even suggested punishment for women who seek out illegal procedures if conservatives succeed in making abortion illegal again, although he backpeddled and instead proposed punishing only those who perform illegal abortions instead. And unlike President Barack Obama, Trump does not seem inclined to support equal pay efforts, given that he has stated that it's up to women to do "as good a job" as men, and seems to ignore the biases and sexism that working women face.

While the president holds the most powerful position in the county, the influence of that office is primarily dependent on the party in control of Congress. Meanwhile, state legislatures continue to have the most impact on the everyday lives of Americans regardless of who is calling the shots in D.C. If the GOP chooses to simply give up the presidential race as a lost cause, that gives them a surplus of financial and political resources that can be moved to other campaigns such as congressional and state races, even state judges races, while they bide their time until 2020 and the next presidential election.

Trying to keep control of the Senate may be the biggest struggle for Republicans, who are defending 24 seats this cycle — many of them in battleground states — as a gain of just four seats and a White House win would give the Senate a Democratic majority. Arizona Sen. John McCainhas expressed concern that he'll be in for the "fight of [his] life" if Trump is the nominee, given how Trump has turned off voters. But others, like Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, claim they think Trump will actually be a "net benefit" or a "positive" for them in their races, both suggesting Trump brings out new voters who have never cast a Republican ballot before.

Endangered GOP senators, as well as other congressional and state politicians, may also see a financial benefit in a Trump nomination as conservatives shift their investments into other races. GOP mega-donors such as Randy Kendrick, Frayda Levy, and Art Pope all told political reporters they are likely to fund congressional races rather than spend on a presidential election. "Because I think Donald Trump's policies will harm America, I think it's more important to support conservative Republican candidates running for Congress and positions across America," Pope told CNN."I would encourage everyone, starting with the voters, to pay very close attention to the down-ticket ballots, I think that's absolutely crucial." Some conservative super PACs, such as Our Principals PAC, which was originally formed to stop Trump from clinching the nomination, pledged to do the same.

Republicans have already experienced the immediate benefits of a Republican Senate majority as they continue blocking Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland, President Obama's choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia after Scalia's death. Even if GOP senators wanted to hold hearings for Garland, the $4.5 million in spending from the conservative legal group Judicial Crisis Network has kept them in line on opposing a vote, as well as attacked Senate Democrats in conservative states for supporting the president's nominee. A continued Senate majority would be a sign that opposing filling the seat had no political ramifications and likely would have Republicans eager to try it again as new liberal nominees supportive of equal rights for women are introduced in the future.

A GOP majority would also continue to block legislation that can help women thrive. Bills to protect women's access to all forms of reproductive health care or ensure they are paid an equal wage fail to pass the Senate, while bills to repeal Obamacare sail through and are only stopped from becoming law by the president's veto pen.

The 2016 state legislative races are expected to be some of the most expensive ever on both sides of the aisle, as Democrats lay the groundwork to try to regain majorities in time for the next wave of redistricting in 2021. Republicans currently hold 69 out of 99 state houses (Nebraska, which is a unicameral system, only has a senate), the party's biggest majority ever, as well as the governorship of 34 states. In 27 states, Republicans hold the House, Senate, and governor's office, while only seven Democratic states can say the same. If the GOP can focus even more resources into these races, while Democrats are investing much of theirs into the presidential race, that number could easily go up.

And it's on the state level where much of the damage has been done in recent years. Having a Democrat in the White House did little to stop the onslaught of anti-abortion and anti-birth control bills that have pummeled half of the country since 2010, when Tea Party candidates swept into office. Once seated, they implemented an incremental strategy to whittle away abortion access on a state-by-state basis, resulting in more than 288 new restrictions and the closure of more than 160 abortion clinics. Republican-dominated legislatures have also blocked the expansion of Medicaid that could have allowed even more of the 12.8 million women between ages 19 and 64 that Kaiser Family Foundation reports were still uninsured as of 2014 to better afford health insurance. They have passed voter ID bills that made it harder for women due to name changes after marriage and divorce, and introduced laws making it easier to obtain firearms, putting women, who are far more often victims of gun violence, at greater risk.

With less focus on the race for the White House, Republicans will also be able to redirect their attention and resources into judicial elections, supporting more conservative judges like Alabama Chief Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who ruled that pregnant women can be charged for chemical endangerment if they use drugs, granting "personhood" rights to their fetuses.

Women are already more than aware of the catastrophe that awaits them as a result of a Donald Trump presidency, if the polls ranking him less popular than both cockroaches and hemorrhoids are any indication. But if conservatives abandon the presidential race and instead switch all of their political capital into congressional races, state campaigns, and local judgeships — and they are successful — women's lives will be just as affected by far-right policies as they would be if Trump wins his race. Incumbent Republicans and conservative donors may be backing away from Trump as the head of their ticket, but that doesn't mean they necessarily disagree with his positions. They just disagree with how he articulates them.

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Cosmopolitan / Robin Marty / May 10, 2106