President Donald Trump has assumed power with a fiercely nationalistic vow to put “America first” and immediately moved to start dismantling the healthcare reforms passed by Barack Obama.
Mr Trump signed his first executive order in the Oval Office, commanding government offices to grant all possible exemptions to limit the “economic and regulatory burden” of the Affordable Care Act on individuals, health care providers or insurance companies, as a prelude to a full repeal.
The order on Friday US time basically directs federal agencies to do what they can to pare back provisions of the act and lay the groundwork to potentially gut the requirement that Americans carry health insurance, which lies at the heart of the law.
The order does not strike down the law, which Republicans in Congress are poised to repeal. Individuals who have bought coverage for 2017 on the health law’s exchanges will still have insurance and insurers will still participate this year.
Later, on Sunday morning Australian time, throngs of women determined to push back against the new American president descended on the nation’s capital and other cities around the globe for more marches aimed at showing Mr Trump they won’t be silent over the next four years.
In Washington they came wearing bright pink “pussyhats” and wielding signs with messages such as “Women won’t back down” and “Less fear more love”.
City officials tweeted that organisers of the Women’s March on Washington had increased the expected turnout there to 500,000, up from 200,000, as crowds began swelling well ahead of the event’s start and subways into the city became clogged with participants.
It wasn’t just a Washington phenomenon and it wasn’t just women: More than 600 “sister marches” were planned across the country and around the world, including Australia, and plenty of men were part of the tableau.
Earlier, as the inauguration day’s ceremonial rituals drew to a close on Saturday Australian time, Mr Trump and his wife Melania stepped out — the first lady stunning in an off-the-shoulder ivory gown — to lead the dance at one of the string of glitzy inaugural balls being held across the capital.