Does Donald Trump actually believe in contraception?
Today we’re going to talk about how this administration is hacking away at government support for family planning. But in order to get there, we’ll have to spend a minute discussing the president’s sex life, and Stormy Daniels, the porn star.
I know you’d much rather get into the serious issue right away, but bear with me.
Daniels recently became famous when The Wall Street Journal reported that she had been paid $130,000 in hush money shortly before the election to keep quiet about a one-night stand she’d had with Trump. That was back in 2006, right after Melania gave birth to Barron. Lately, Stormy has been signing denials while making TV rounds and winking broadly.
The best evidence that the interlude did occur is an interview she gave In Touch magazine in 2011. Her description of their one-night stand was so boring, it seems impossible she was making it up. The only truly interesting part was Daniels’s report that Trump really hates sharks. (“He was like, ‘I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’”) We know people cared about that part because of the flood of donations to pro-shark charities.
The sex, in case you’re interested in that sort of thing, sounded pretty run-of-the-mill. The only unusual part was that she said Trump did not use a condom: “And I was really kind of upset about it because I am so, like, careful.”
Our president spoke highly of condoms back in the day, when he did endless radio guy-talk sessions with his old pal Howard Stern. On the other hand, he volunteered that he had been surprised when his squeeze Marla Maples announced she was pregnant: “She said, ‘I think I’m so happy! We’re about to have a child.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’ I didn’t know about this.”
The wife Trump ditched for Marla was Ivana, who later claimed she had gotten pregnant on their honeymoon even though she was using an IUD. “Three years later, the same thing happened!” the first former Mrs. Trump reported in her recent biography. And then again. The failure rate for IUDs is currently about 0.8 percent, but Ivana’s were apparently less reliable than a fortune cookie.
This may be way more than you wanted to know. But the point is that Trump seems to have had either terrible luck or stupendous ineptitude when it comes to birth control. Do you think that’s why he’s intent on wrecking things for the rest of the nation?
The administration certainly seems to be going out of its way to make it difficult for women to get help with family planning. Early on, Trump announced that employers who offered moral objections would no longer have to cover contraceptives in their health care plans.
Tough luck, female employees. Alex Azar, the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services, was asked about Trump’s policy during his confirmation hearings and went out of his way to be incoherent: “I do believe we have to balance, of course, a woman’s choice of insurance that she would, that she would want, with the conscience of employers and others in — that’s a balance. That’s sort of an American value, is trying to balance those. …”
People, what do you think he was trying to say?
A) “My main goal here is to demonstrate I can sound like Donald Trump. The whole gang’s doing it!”
B) “Screw you, this administration takes the evangelical side.”
C) “Did I mention I think drug prices are too high?”
Meanwhile, the Title X program, a critical source of federal funding for family planning services, seems to have been dumped in a deep freeze. The more than $250 million in current grants, which support reproductive health services in every state, are going to start expiring soon, and so far the administration hasn’t made a peep about how groups can apply for renewals. “There is an increasing tension and anxiety in the field,” said Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.
The Trump administration originally put Title X funding under the direction of Teresa Manning, an anti-abortion activist who claimed “contraception doesn’t work.” Good news! Manning left abruptly in January.
Bad news! She’s been replaced by Valerie Huber, a longtime advocate of sexual abstinence, which she refers to as “sexual risk avoidance.”
Now it’s not surprising that Trump decided to cuddle up to the anti-abortion movement. True, it’s a complete turnaround from the position he took in his precampaign life. (“Who said I’m pro-choice?” he once demanded, perhaps forgetting it was him, in one of his books.) But dumping your principled positions on abortion is pretty much a requisite for getting the Republican presidential nomination. And in Trump’s case, of course, there wasn’t any principle.
Torpedoing critical programs that help women to avoid unwanted pregnancy in the first place, however, is just cruel and stupid. And an embarrassing reminder that, for a former playboy, our president doesn’t seem to know all that much about birth control.
Too bad Stormy doesn’t take follow-up questions.