Carolyn on Women’s Health and Issues
Women make up over 50% of the population but only around 20% of the representatives in Congress. This is reflected in our national policies from women’s health to women’s pay. We need to change this.
Women’s Health: Before the Affordable Care Act passed, my hairdresser, a young woman, couldn’t have a baby because she purchased health care on the individual marketplace and the only plans she could purchase refused to cover maternity care. This is unacceptable. We all have a responsibility for the next generation that will come after us whether we choose to have children or not.
The Affordable Care Act included maternity care and contraceptive coverage as essential medical services that all plans had to cover. The Republican Congress has voted repeatedly to allow insurance companies to remove this coverage. I’m here to fight for women’s health and this includes making sure we have insurance coverage for maternity care and contraceptives.
Choice: I am pro-choice and support the basic framework of Roe v. Wade. I also believe that we need to support women's reproductive choices in other ways. We must ensure that insurance companies cover contraceptives and that we support organizations such as Planned Parenthood. We also need to make sure that adoption is an accessible option for all women and families.
Comprehensive Paid Family Leave: Giving families time to bond with their newborns, newly adopted children, or to care for a sick family member without facing financial stress is also a policy that I strongly support. The US is the only developed country in the world that does not provide even a modest form of paid family leave. (Source: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jul/25/kirsten-gillibrand/yes-us-only-industrialized-nation-without-paid-fam/)
We do need to be sensitive to the business implications in the design of such a policy as well as the fiscal implications for the federal budget. However, we have successful models piloted by states that are great for families, are not budget-busters, and have not had a negative impact on business. It can be done.
California has had paid family leave policies since 2004 which provide six weeks of benefits to families and is administered through their disability insurance program. 89% of California employers report that this policy has had no effect or a positive effect on productivity, 91% say it has had no effect or a positive effect on profitability, and not surprisingly, 99% report it has had a positive effect on morale. (Source: http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/kc/content/economics-paid-family-leave)
Equal Pay: Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Currently, women make 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. A black woman makes 63 cents and a Latina only 54 cents. (Source: https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/)
In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act and while women have been making (slow) gains, the goals of the law have not been fully realized. Women of color are even more heavily penalized.
Last fall, the Trump Administration rolled back Obama era protections for women that 1) required paycheck transparency from employers that are federal contractors; 2) restricted use of forced arbitration around pay and sex discrimination and harassment complaints. We need to reverse policies like this and continue to press for pay transparency which will allow more complete enforcement of the Equal Pay Act as well as protecting all workers from employment practices such as the abusive use of binding arbitration provisions.