Women’s Health and Equality
Despite all the successes achieved by the fight for gender equality during the last 100 years, social conservatives have now renewed their fight to roll back gains made for women’s health and economic equality. The right to choose is under attack, access to affordable quality healthcare and reproductive services is out of reach for a growing number of American women, gender-based violence persists, and women are still paid less than their male counterparts. That is why I have stood up for women and fought to correct injustices that still exist in our society.
Choice and Family Planning
With the unwavering belief that our nation’s Constitution protects the right to privacy and a woman’s autonomy over her own body, I have a voting record and moral compass that is unequivocally pro-choice.
In addition to fighting against efforts that chip away at Roe v. Wade and deny access to a safe and legal medical procedure, I am strongly opposed to the Blunt amendment which would deny women access to birth control and basic health care services from their employers. I also am a firm supporter of comprehensive sex education and family planning services, including for low income women, to help prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place. In the face of the current egregious attacks and misinformation campaigns by the Republicans, my commitment to using my position to stand-up for choice and protect women’s health is as strong as ever.
During my time in public office I have:
- Received 100% on Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Legislative Score Card since I entered Congress in 2007
- Fought against efforts to deny insurance coverage of contraception for women based on their employer’s personal objections
- Served as a member of the House Pro-Choice caucus
- Stood up against H.R. 358, the so-called "Protect Life Act,” which would severely jeopardize women's access to reproductive health care services, going far and above restrictions already placed in law.
- Repeatedly fought against efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X Family Planning Programs in federal appropriation bills
- Voted against the Stupak-Pitts amendment in health care reform legislation, as the language was discriminatory and would have been an unprecedented roadblock to access to a legal medical procedure
- Joined a group of my colleagues in introducing the Protecting Patient and Health Care Act of 2009 to stop implementation of the Bush Administration’s 11th-hour “refusal rule” that would have cut off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic, or other entity that did not accommodate employees who refused to participate in vital care that they found objectionable – such as dispensing birth control and providing STI and HIV testing
- Refused to let poor women in developing countries become victim of Washington politics by continually supporting funding for the United Nations Population Fund as well as efforts to repeal the global gag rule and mandates on teaching abstinence-only education abroad
- Cosponsored the Prevention First Act to invest in Title X women’s clinics, lower the cost of family planning services for low-income women, require private health plans to cover FDA-approved prescription contraceptives, raise awareness of emergency contraception, mandate that hospitals receiving federal funds provide victims of sexual assault with information and access to emergency contraception, and work to ensure that our nation’s youth receive age-appropriate, medically accurate comprehensive sex education.
- Led the fight in the Connecticut State Legislature to require emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms
Since I came to Congress, I have made women’s health issues a top priority because for far too long they have not received the attention or resources they deserve.
Specifically I have:
- Introduced along with two of my colleagues the Maternity Care Improvement Act of 2010 to help keep women safe during childbirth, improve the maternity workforce, and address maternal health disparities
- Secured passage of an amendment, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, that was included in the 2009 House-passed health care overall legislation that would make women's health issues a priority at the federal level by codifying offices of women's health into law
- Fought to fully fund breast and cervical cancer screening at Connecticut hospitals as
- Chairman of the Public Health Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly
And I voted for and helped pass the landmark Affordable Care Act health care law which:
- Ensures being a woman will no longer be treated as a “pre-existing condition.”
- Bans insurance companies from dropping women when they get sick or become pregnant.
- For women in new plans, provides free coverage of important, life-saving preventive services, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and birth control.
- Improves the care of millions of older women with chronic conditions by providing incentives under Medicare for more coordinated care.
- Bans insurance companies from requiring women to obtain a pre-authorization or referral for access to obstetrical and gynecological care.
- Ends the common practice of “gender rating,” charging women substantially higher premiums than men for the same coverage.
Violence Against Women
According to a recent study by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, over 1,000 Connecticut residents are served by local domestic violence programs and shelters each day. This alarming statistic comes at a time when Republicans in the House want to cut funding for domestic violence and sexual assault programs.
The issue of violence against women is something I am very passionate about. That is why I am an active Advisory Board Member of the Susan B. Anthony Project in Torrington which provides domestic violence, sexual assault, transitional housing, and outreach and education services. I have also:
- Supported efforts to reauthorize, improve and fund the Violence Against Women Act
- (VAWA), and voted against Republican attempts to roll back key protections of the law
- Urged House appropriators to prioritize funding for DNA testing of rape kits
- Led an effort to provide an additional $5 million to fund state-of-the-art training for judges and court personnel to identify and resolve the complex issues involved in domestic violence cases.
Equality in the Workforce
Women are invaluable members of the American workforce and our global economy. However, women still earn just 77 cents for every $1 a man earns. Disturbingly, Connecticut lags behind with a 76% earnings ratio between men and women compared to the national average of 77%.
Moreover, working mothers face unique hurdles that make moving up the corporate ladder even more difficult in today’s economy. That is why I have:
- Voted for and helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act to help remedy unequal wages and overturn barriers that made it more difficult for workers to pursue pay discrimination claims.
- Voted for and helped pass the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act which would provide all federal employees with four weeks of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. The Federal Government is not only this country’s largest employer, but it should also serve as a model for the private sector to follow.