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Women's Rights and Health

Women’s rights are under attack by the current administration. We can and will not let the Republicans’ turn back the clock and impede the progress made to erase inequities that still exist. We must fiercely protect a woman’s right to choose. We must also enact policies to ensure that women can fully participate in our economy and reach their full potential. We know that when women succeed, America succeeds.

As anti-choice laws originate from Republican controlled state governments in places like Alabama and Georgia, anti-choice extremists have been reenergized in their fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. While overly restrictive abortion laws undeniably harm all women and their families, such laws have been shown to hurt those of minority and low-income backgrounds the most.

As your Representative in Congress, I recognize that health decisions are best made by women and their doctors, not by politicians. That’s why, since I was first sworn into Congress back in 1989, I’ve been a tireless advocate of a woman’s right to choose. I am proud to have been given a 100 percent lifetime rating from both Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

Women’s health needs extend well beyond choice. One of the core components in ensuring positive health outcomes to women is access to contraceptive services. Under the Affordable Care Act, birth control was provided to millions of insured women at no cost. Predictably, the Trump administration tried to reverse this, but thankfully were thwarted in their efforts.  We must also address the alarming rise in maternal mortality.  I introduced the bipartisan Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act (H.R.1551), legislation to examine the performance of Medicaid, which finances roughly half of child births in the United States, and CHIP in providing adequate care for newborns and mothers.

Many low-income and vulnerable women can struggle to afford menstrual hygiene products such as tampons and pads. A recent study of disadvantaged women residing in a large, urban setting found that two-thirds went without feminine hygiene products because of their cost.

To ensure women have access to these vital health care products, I cosponsored Congresswoman Grace Meng’s Menstrual Equity for All Act, H.R. 1882, introduced on March 26, 2019 to expand access to menstrual products in schools, workplaces, and prisons. H.R. 1882 has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor and I look forward to voting for it when it comes before the full House.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have prided myself on being a strong advocate for the rights of women. Though significant progress has been achieved over recent decades pertaining to gender equality, there still is substantial progress to be made. In 2009, I helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a concerted step in our fight to close the problematic gender pay gap. However, women on average still earn only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Stemming from the election of the most diverse Congress in American history during 2018 midterms, the new Democratic House majority passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. I was pleased to cosponsor this legislation which seeks to lessen pay difference by preventing employers from determining a worker’s pay by referring to their level of compensation in past jobs, as unfair wages often follow women throughout their professional careers. It also makes sure that women receive the same remedies for sex-based pay discrimination that those have on the grounds of race and ethnicity.

In addition, our country sorely needs more family friendly workplace policies. Women today remain primary caregivers as well as being co-breadwinners. They disproportionally bear the brunt of the burdens caused by the absence of paid sick days and of paid family leave. When women can’t take time off to care for a sick child or family member or their own illness, they have to make impossible choices between health and a paycheck.

In the opening months of the 116th Congress, we were also able to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which lapsed in 2018 under Republican control of the House of Representatives. The 2019 reauthorization addresses domestic violence by expanding protections for marginalized groups and closing the dangerous loopholes that were previously present. I firmly believe that this legislation will help eliminate the plague of domestic violence and save lives. 

As your representative, you can count on me to continue to be a leader in championing women’s rights and health.