President Trump: An Overview on What This Means for Bioethics

President Trump: An Overview on What This Means for Bioethics

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and win has created heightened tensions in the country due in part to his conservative cultural politics and strongly pro-life stance. Now that the shock of his victory has begun to wear off, scientists across all fields have begun to consider and worry about the impact of Donald Trump’s future presidency on their research and progresses.

The Environment

The Trump campaign website states that the president-elect plans to “make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water.”1 However, environmentalists are concerned due to a previous quote posted on Trump’s Twitter account, in which Trump implies that he believes global warming is “a hoax” created by China in order to “make US manufacturing non-competitive.”1 Environmentalists are also concerned due to Trump’s plans to change ongoing policies related to the environment. Currently, the United States is one of more than one hundred countries that participated in the Paris Agreement, which seeks to decrease emissions and aid vulnerable countries in adapting to various climate changes.2 Yet in May, Trump pledged to “cancel” the Paris deal.2 Since then, Trump has promised to rescind Obama’s Clean Power Plan, appointed a global warming skeptic to lead his Environmental Protection Agency transition team, and said in a conference that he would stop all payments of US tax money to global warming programs.2 Additionally, many companies believe that Trump’s win creates the opportunity to restart harmful energy policies within the country.2

Abortion and Birth Control

President-elect Trump has been outspoken about his pro-life stance, which has created controversy and worry among women’s health-based organizations. During his campaign, Trump proposed that he would defund Planned Parenthood if it continued to provide abortions.5 He has even said that if abortions become illegal, women who undergo these procedures should be subject to “some form of punishment.”6 The future vice president, Mike Pence –known for his anti-abortion stance – has signed one of the strictest state abortion laws in existence.5  Many concerned women have begun to receive intrauterine devices (IUDs) as a form of long-term birth control in fear of losing access to other forms of contraception during Trump’s presidency and as a result of his promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.7 Planned Parenthood, however, is prepared to fight for their beliefs. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, said that “Planned Parenthood has been here for 100 years, and one thing is clear: We will never back down and we will never stop fighting… health care should not be political.”5


Stem Cell Research

Stem cells are being used for research on potential cures for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.8 Although Trump has not said enough on the topic of stem cell research for his stance to be clear, Pence previously wrote an op-ed calling embryonic stem cell research an “empty promise.”8 Scientists have already faced political setbacks during Bush’s presidency, when he signed an executive order that ended all federal funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001.8 Dr. Allen Spiegel, dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said that the ban was like “tying one hand behind the backs of stem cell investigators.”8 With many scientists relying on stem cells for working towards a cure for a variety of diseases, the election of Trump and Pence poses a threat to their research.

The Mental Health of Veterans

Trump’s promises to make reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) garnered a lot of support for him from veterans during the election. He appears to take the challenges that veterans face very seriously and addressed them in his victory speech. Trump has said that he plans to strongly address the issues of suicide and mental health, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder, and increase the number of mental health care professionals within the Department of Veterans Affairs).3 However, execution of these policies is predicted to be challenging. Paul Rieckoff, founder of the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, says that “Fixing the VA might be one of the biggest challenges for a President Trump… it's going to require incredible cooperation across government, across the private sector, in the medical community, the veterans community, and we don't have any specifics.”4



  1. 1 Mastroianni, Brian. “Where Trump and Clinton Stand on Climate Change.” Published October 20, 2016.

  2. “Trump Win Raises Questions about UN Climate Deal.” Published November 9, 2016.

  3. Samuel, Leah. “Four things Trump can do to Improve Mental Health Care for Veterans.” Published November 12, 2016.

  4. “Veterans Hope President-Elect Trump Will Continue To Focus On Their Issues.” Published November 11, 2016.

  5. Beck, Christina. “What does a Trump administration mean for Planned Parenthood?” Published November 10, 2016.

  6. Hinckley, Story. “Trump abortion comments outrage even antiabortion groups.” Published March 31, 2016.

  7. Guarino, Ben. “Women consider long-term birth control now that Trump victory looms over reproductive health.” Published November 10, 2016.

  8. Mohney, Gillian. “Stem Cell Researchers Anxious About Trump Presidency.” Published November 12, 2016.


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