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This Planned Parenthood tool tracks Trump’s war on women’s health

“[T]here’s just so much going on that people don’t know what’s happening. But when they find out what’s happening, they’re furious.”

When you think of the Trump administration’s ongoing battle against women’s health, you might envision Mike Pence or Trump himself as the primary players. The name Valerie Huber probably doesn’t come to mind–but Huber, who is the senior policy advisor to the assistant secretary for health, has an outsize influence on who gets birth control in the U.S. That’s because she’s in charge of deciding which healthcare organizations get funding from the nation’s program for affordable birth control. It turns out Huber doesn’t believe in abortion at all, and is a staunch advocate for abstinence-only sex ed. Since she joined the Department of Health and Human Services last summer, funding has been cut to a program meant to help teens safely learn about sex and prevent teen pregnancy.

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In a tumultuous news cycle dominated by trade wars and nuclear tension, it feels nearly impossible to keep track of all the minor–and even major–policy changes and budget cuts that are also happening, many of which are hostile to women’s healthcare and reproductive rights. That’s why Planned Parenthood has released a new tool to keep track of exactly what Trump and his minions are up to when it comes to birth control and other women’s health issues.

“It’s overwhelming to keep track of everything, but these are policies and people who are critical to how we live our everyday life. What we were hearing from volunteers and activists is that there’s just so much going on that people don’t know what’s happening,” says Erica Sackin, director of political communications at Planned Parenthood. “But when they find out what’s happening, they’re furious.”

Trump gets plenty of attention in the news for his outrageous tweets, bizarre beefs, and bigoted comments–which means that it’s easy for the smaller, horrible things his administration is doing to get lost. That’s a real design problem for groups like Planned Parenthood that need their supporters to follow and care about these smaller policy stories so they remain galvanized to take action.

[Image: courtesy Work & Co]

The site, appropriately called Tracking Trump, was designed and developed by the New York-based digital product agency Work & Co, which divided the avalanche of information about the administration’s policies into three easily digestible tabs: the players, the timeline, and the impact. People like Valerie Huber, as well as usual suspects like Mike Pence and the president himself, are on the players page, with simple diagrams that show exactly what they have control over and how it might impact you. The timeline page tracks all the news around birth control, sex ed, and other women’s health issues. The digital team at Planned Parenthood worked with the designers to pull the content together, all of which is drawn from publicly available sources like prominent news organizations and government pages. The impact page breaks down some of the numbers to show what is at stake. For instance, the administration is trying to undo Title X, which means 4 million people could lose their affordable birth control.

The biggest design challenge was the complexity of some of these policies and understanding all the context. Work & Co partner Jessica Bauer-Greene wanted the site to feel like a friend’s explanation: “What if you had a friend mapping it out for you: Here’s what happened most recently, sort of writing it all out on a piece of paper, like a napkin at the bar, in a way that’s not totally overwhelming and gives all the information,” she says.

[Image: courtesy Work & Co]
Tracking Trump is a relatively simple tool right now, but there’s more planned: Bauer-Greene says there are plans to make the site searchable and filterable, and to build a browser extension to go along with it to give users breaking news notifications.

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But the key is that the site is easy to understand–and more importantly, it’s easy to share: A big “share” button sitting on the site’s top right encourages readers to tell their friends and family about it. “Now, more than a year into this administration, the fight has changed, and our strategy has too. We’re not just fighting a bill in Congress, we’re fighting against small policy changes that have a big impact, or the appointment of a terrifying official who’ll now be in charge of your healthcare,” says Planned Parenthood’s digital director Heather Holdridge. “It’s the first time we’ve launched a campaign where the action we’re asking people to take is about information–it’s not just ‘make a phone call or sign a petition,’ but read, understand, know what’s happening, and make sure everyone you know understands, too.”

Fighting back against Trump begins with being fully informed about what’s going on. After all, knowledge is power. You can check out TrackingTrump.org here.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is the deputy editor of Fast Company's technology section. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and follow her on Twitter @kschwabable

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