An update from Heidi Hess, CREDO Action senior campaign manager

Last year, we spoke with Heidi Hess, CREDO Action senior campaign manager, about CREDO’s activism pushing back against right-wing attacks on women. We wanted to reach back out to get a update on the state of women’s rights. Heidi took a few minutes to chat with us.

1. Since we last spoke, a lot has happened when it comes to women’s rights. Can you give us a quick update?

The biggest change since last year has been Donald Trump’s election. Trump is a misogynist, a sexist and a serial sexual predator. He routinely demeans and harasses women. He promised to appoint a Supreme Court nominee who will overturn Roe v. Wade and has followed through on that promise by nominating Neil Gorsuch. He believes that women who have abortions should be punished and paid family leave is dangerous. He has appointed Jeff Sessions, who has a long history of playing politics with women’s health and safety and denied that Trump’s boast about grabbing women’s genitals was a description of sexual assault, as his attorney general – the person responsible for defending our civil rights.

Trump’s shameful behavior toward women sends a terrible message and sets a dangerous example that sexism and misogyny are acceptable and men with power or money can sexually harass and assault women without consequence.

2. What are some other recent right-wing attacks on women’s rights?

It is important to remember that Trump’s misogyny and sexism stands on the shoulders of decades of extreme right-wing Republican attempts to take away women’s rights and constrain women within the bounds of conservative notions of “a woman’s place.”

For years, anti-choice Republicans in states across the country have passed bills to restrict women’s access to abortion. Now, emboldened by Trump’s presidency, they are doubling down on their efforts to make abortion inaccessible and illegal. And with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, there’s a renewed fervor at the national level as well.

One of Trump’s first acts in the White House was to reinstate the “global gag rule,” a policy that prevents family planning foreign aid from funding organizations that inform women about abortion. It not only cuts off women’s access to safe abortion, but also to family planning services and HIV/AIDS prevention. Several abortion ban bills have been introduced in Congress. The bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would also defund Planned Parenthood, rescind the contraceptive mandate and drastically restrict private insurance from covering abortion services.

3. How do CREDO members help support women’s rights?

CREDO members are fierce in their activism to defend women’s rights. They are all-in in the fight to defend Planned Parenthood. We’ve gathered more than 355,000 petition signatures and made more than 5,000 phone calls in just the last week to key senators urging them to stand with Planned Parenthood and defend women’s health care. More than 375,000 people have signed our petition to block a federal abortion ban. Our fight to block Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is absolutely a fight for women’s rights, and we’re doing everything we can to make clear to every Democrat that a vote to advance Gorsuch is a vote to undo Roe v. Wade.

CREDO members also support women’s rights through the donations they make possible – and women’s rights organizations are some of the top groups we fund.

Each month, CREDO gives more than $150,000 to three progressive organizations, and last year we donated over $270,000 to groups fighting for women’s rights, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and Planned Parenthood Affiliates. We’re proud to be Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor.

4. What campaigns are you and your team focused on in 2017?

In addition to the campaigns I mentioned, we’re also working to push back on anti-woman legislation in the states, defend the social safety net and block Trump’s heartless budget.

I also think it’s worth noting that most of the campaigns we work on across the progressive landscape are campaigns that impact women’s lives. When we fight for immigrants’ rights or against the Muslim ban, we are fighting to keep families together and to prevent communities from living in fear of harassment or deportation. When we fight for Black lives, we are taking a stand that reproductive justice is not just about abortion rights, but about all families and communities having the right to raise their children without fear that they will be killed or locked away by police and state violence. Our work for environmental justice helps ensure that families’ and communities’ safety and health take precedence over corporate interests and corporate greed.