Complaint Alleges Idaho Law Violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act
The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit to protect the rights of patients to access emergency medical care guaranteed by federal law. The suit challenges Idaho Code § 18-622 (§ 18-622), which is set to go into effect on Aug. 25 and imposes a near-total ban on abortion.
The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that § 18-622 conflicts with, and is preempted by, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) in situations where an abortion is necessary stabilizing treatment for an emergency medical condition. The United States also seeks an order permanently enjoining the Idaho law to the extent it conflicts with EMTALA.
“On the day Roe and Casey were overturned, we promised that the Justice Department would work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “That is what we are doing, and that is what we will continue to do. We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law. And we will closely scrutinize state abortion laws to ensure that they comply with federal law.”
“Federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Women should not have to be near death to get care. The Department of Health and Human Services will continue its work with the Department of Justice to enforce federal law protecting access to health care, including abortions.”
“One critical focus of the Reproductive Rights Task Force has been assessing the fast-changing landscape of state laws and evaluating potential legal responses to infringements on federal protections,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s lawsuit against the State of Idaho for its near-absolute abortion ban is the first public example of this work in action. We know that these are frightening and uncertain times for pregnant women and their providers, and the Justice Department, through the Task Force’s work, is committed to doing everything we can to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
EMTALA requires hospitals that receive federal Medicare funds to provide necessary stabilizing treatment to patients who arrive at their emergency departments while experiencing a medical emergency. When a physician reasonably determines that the necessary stabilizing treatment is an abortion, state law cannot prohibit the provision of that care. The statute defines necessary stabilizing treatment to include all treatment needed to ensure that a patient will not have her health placed in serious jeopardy, have her bodily functions seriously impaired, or suffer serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.
As explained in the complaint, once § 18-622 enters into effect in Idaho, a prosecutor can indict, arrest and prosecute a physician merely by showing that an abortion has been performed, without regard to the circumstances. A physician who provides an abortion in Idaho can ultimately avoid criminal liability only by establishing as an affirmative defense that “the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” or that, before performing the abortion, the pregnant patient (or, in some circumstances, their parent or guardian) reported an “act of rape or incest” against the patient to a specified agency and provided a copy of the report to the physician. The law provides no defense for an abortion necessary to protect the health of the pregnant patient.
Idaho’s criminal prohibition of all abortions, subject only to the statute’s two limited affirmative defenses, directly conflicts with EMTALA and stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of EMTALA’s federal objectives of providing stabilizing care and treatment to anyone who needs it. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the Justice Department established the Reproductive Rights Task Force, chaired by Associate Attorney General Gupta. The Task Force is charged with protecting access to reproductive freedom under federal law. For additional information on the work of the Task Force visit www.justice.gov/reproductive-rights.
Justice Department Announces Reproductive Rights Task Force
The Task Force Formalizes the Department’s Ongoing Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law
The Justice Department announced today the establishment of the Reproductive Rights Task Force. The Task Force formalizes an existing working group and efforts by the Department over the last several months to identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care in anticipation of the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will chair the Task Force, which will consist of representatives from the Department’s Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney community, Office of the Solicitor General, Office for Access to Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Associate Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General and Office of the Attorney General and will be supported by dedicated staff.
“As Attorney General Garland has said, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” said Associate Attorney General Gupta. “The Court abandoned 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to abortion, preventing women all over the country from being able to make critical decisions about our bodies, our health, and our futures. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”
The Task Force will monitor and evaluate all state and local legislation and enforcement actions that threaten to:
Infringe on federal legal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care;
Impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care in states where it is legal;
Impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states;
Ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy; or
Impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide reproductive health services in a manner authorized by federal law.
The Task Force will identify such actions and coordinate appropriate federal government responses, including proactive and defensive legal action where appropriate. The Task Force will work with agencies across the federal government to support their work on issues relating to reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare.
The Justice Department is working with external stakeholders such as reproductive services providers, advocates and state attorneys general. The Task Force will continue this important effort. It will also work with the Office of Counsel to the President to convene a meeting of private pro bono attorneys, bar associations and public interest organizations in order to encourage lawyers to represent and assist patients, providers and third parties lawfully seeking reproductive health services throughout the country. In order to assist attorneys working to protect access to comprehensive reproductive health services, the Task Force will centralize online legal resources, such as filed Justice Department legal briefs and information about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
Recognizing that the best way to protect reproductive freedom is through congressional action, the Task Force will also coordinate providing technical assistance to Congress in connection with federal legislation to codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services. It will also coordinate the provision of technical assistance concerning Federal constitutional protections to states seeking to afford legal protection to out-of-state patients and providers who offer legal reproductive healthcare.
HHS Issues Guidance to the Nation’s Retail Pharmacies Clarifying Their Obligations to Ensure Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Services
Today, following President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring access to reproductive health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws. The guidance makes clear that as recipients of federal financial assistance, including Medicare and Medicaid payments, pharmacies are prohibited under law from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in their programs and activities. This includes supplying prescribed medications; making determinations regarding the suitability of prescribed medications for a patient; and advising a patient about prescribed medications and how to take them. The action is the latest step in the HHS’ response to protect reproductive health care.
“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” said Secretary Becerra. “This includes access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.”
Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557), 42 U.S.C. 18116, recipients of federal financial assistance cannot exclude an individual from participation in, denying them the benefits of, or otherwise subjecting them to discrimination based on sex and other bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, age, and disability) in their programs and activities. Under federal civil rights law, pregnancy discrimination includes discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.
HHS is committed to ensuring that people can access reproductive health care, free from discrimination. If you believe that your or another person’s civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with HHS at: https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints/index.html.
Below are a list of actions HHS has taken in the days following the Supreme Court’s ruling to ensure access to reproductive health care:
Convened a meeting with health insurers, and sent them a letter, calling on the industry to commit to meeting their obligations to provide coverage for contraceptive services at no cost as required by the Affordable Care Act;
Issued guidance to patients and providers that addresses the extent to which federal law and regulations protect individuals’ private medical information when it comes to seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive health care, as well as when it comes to using health information apps on smartphones;
Announced nearly $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X family planning providers;
Met with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Maine Governor Janet Mills and state attorneys general to discuss state-specific concerns;
Issued guidance on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) reaffirming that it protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations.
By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com
Thousands gathered in Foley Square, in front of the federal court house, to hear calls for justice, equal rights and full personhood for women in face of the assault on abortion rights from Texas and dozens of states and the right wing majority Supreme Court’s deference and then marched up to Washington Square Park, bringing their messages of “Save Roe” “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries”, “Hands off Our Privates” “We Won’t Go Back” and “Ruth Sent Us.” (See: NYC Joins Millions Across Country in Rallies, Marches for Women’s Reproductive Freedom)
By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul came out hopping mad over the Texas abortion ban strategy and swinging at the Planned Parenthood Day of Action Rally in support of abortion access, making a sweeping invitation to any woman in a state where abortion access is obstructed, to come to New York, a sanctuary.
“We are here to show the rest of the nation that New Yorkers stand with every single one of you. Women across this nation, we have your back.”
She declared, “Right now, we have oppression going on in our own country when people are trying to tell women what to do with their own bodies. It stops here in New York. Let’s take this battle all across the nation. To Washington, to Texas, and anywhere else that they think they have a right to have their hands on our bodies.
“Keep your damn hands off our bodies.”
In addition, Governor Hochul announced an agenda to affirm abortion rights and cement New York’s status as a place to welcome women seeking abortion care.
Governor Hochul was joined by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to lay out their combined efforts to fight for reproductive rights. As part of these efforts, the Governor is directing State agencies to coordinate a statewide public information campaign, including the development of a patient bill of rights, in coordination with stakeholders. This campaign will help women know their rights and legal protections and ensure this information is accessible and widely available. The Governor also directed the Department of Health to take immediate action to develop and widely distribute modern and comprehensive provider guidance on the right to provide abortion care and to ensure updates to existing regulations are adopted so that medication abortion can be more easily accessed during telehealth visits.
“Abortion access is safe in New York – the rights of those who are seeking abortion services will always be protected here,” Governor Hochul said. “This plan will affirm that in our state, and leaders like Senator Gillibrand will fight on a national level. To the women of Texas, I want to say I am with you. Lady Liberty is here to welcome you with open arms.”
Recognizing that national attention on abortion issues may make misinformation more likely to spread, the Governor also wrote a letter to Facebook urging the company to provide information on any current efforts to mitigate the spread of abortion misinformation online and to take new action to combat misinformation about abortion laws, regulations, and availability.
Here is a highlighted transcript:
Are you all fired up? I am fired up. I love a good fight. But I’ll tell you, my friends, this is a fight that I thought ended when my mother was starting out as a parent, as a young person. I had no idea that all these years later we’d be fighting the same fight that grandma and my mom fought, that my own daughter now has her rights threatened by crazy people in places like Texas.
We are sick and tired of being sick and tired, are we not? Have you heard that before? We don’t want to be fighting this anymore, but we are ready. We are here to show the rest of the nation that New Yorkers stand with every single one of you.
Women across this nation, we have your back. We will not abandon you just because we are far more enlightened in our respect for women’s bodies, and I have been a fighter on the forefront of this battle since 27 years ago when I ran for local office, running for a simple town board in a small town, and I was told in this very conservative community, if I didn’t take the “Right to Life” political line that I would never get elected in a million years. And I said, well watch this. I would not touch that line. I ran for office and I won overwhelmingly, time and time and time again.
And I say that because that is what’s going on in other parts of our nation and even in parts of our own state. And I’ll tell you one more story. I am so passionately engaged in making sure that every woman never has to find her way to a back alley, or to fight for simply having contraception access. I will join this battle and I will help lead the nation in this fight because when I was a member of congress, as member of congress I fought for the Affordable Care Act, because I thought health rights are human rights. It’s that simple. Everybody deserves the dignity of good healthcare and included in that was the right to contraceptive coverage by employers. They had to provide this, and I stood firm for that, and as a result that was an issue that I lost my seat in Congress on, and I would do it all over again because sometimes you just have to stand up and do what’s right and stand up for other people. And that’s what you’re doing here, standing in the rain in Brooklyn today. I am so proud of you, every one of you.
I want to thank our great borough president, Eric Adams, who is hosting us. Thank you, future Mayor Eric Adams. And to all of the elected officials who are here today. This is a battle that’s always happening in the streets. It’s happening at the Planned Parenthoods facilities that I’ve gone to after they’ve been subjected to attacks and terrorist actions.
We have to stand together and let people know that there is a reason why we feel we should be the sanctuary for people across this nation whose rights are attacked, whether it’s Texas or anywhere else because in 1886 they erected a beautiful woman in our harbor with her hand held high with torch in it, a beacon of hope for people who are oppressed.
And right now, we have oppression going on in our own country when people are trying to tell women what to do with their own bodies. It stops here in New York. Let’s take this battle all across the nation. To Washington, to Texas, and anywhere else that they think they have a right to have their hands on our bodies.
Keep your damn hands off our bodies. Keep your damn hands off our bodies. We are sick and tired. We are going to take this battle anywhere it occurs, and I want to thank all of you. You inspire me. You inspire me, each and every one of you when I come out here and I see your passion to fight for other people and make they have their dignity and rights. I want to thank you, Joy, and all our friends at Planned Parenthood for being there when we need you the most.
I am going to join this army, I’m going to help lead this army, whatever you need me to do, I will be there my friends. It’s all about showing up just like you showed up here on this beautiful day in Brooklyn. Thank you everybody.
Standing Up for Women’s Reproductive Rights
Senator Gillibrand said,”Having control over your own body and your own future is a basic human right. But that right is being threatened every day. The recent law in Texas – and the Supreme Court’s refusal to block it – is dangerous and disturbing. This law is not just unconscionable, it’s unconstitutional. At the federal level, we must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would create federal protections against state restrictions that fail to protect women’s health and intrude upon personal decision-making. Here in New York, we luckily have a governor who understands and champions fundamental reproductive rights. I stand ready to support Governor Hochul’s efforts to ensure that providers, patients and the people of New York have the best information about abortion care and the resources to get the care they need.”
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney said, “The Supreme Court’s failure to block the draconian Texas anti-choice SB8 law flies in the face of decades of precedent and is a major blow to Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion. SB 8 makes it illegal to end a pregnancy under nearly all circumstances after 6 weeks — before most people even know they’re pregnant. This devastating ruling by the highest court will most impact BIPOC and lower income individuals who often do not have the same access to health care or ability to travel out of state to access an abortion. The House has already voted to repeal the Hyde Amendment, and we must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. Here in New York, I’m so proud to have a governor like Kathy Hochul, who I know will work each and every day to protect New Yorkers’ reproductive rights.”
New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “In New York, we have shown that we are ready to protect women’s right to choose and access high quality reproductive healthcare,” “I want to thank Gov. Hochul and all the partners involved in this campaign, for amplifying the message that in New York, we will continue to be the standard bearers for women’s reproductive rights. With this campaign we are saying that in New York, women’s health matters, women’s decisions matter and the reproductive rights of ALL New Yorkers’ and visitors alike are protected.”
Senator Liz Krueger, Co-Chair of Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus said, “For many years before we passed the Reproductive Health Act in New York, we were told by opponents of choice that it was unnecessary, because the Supreme Court would never overturn Roe v. Wade. And yet here we are: just two years after passing the RHA, a Court packed with radical extremists has upheld Texas Republicans’ flagrantly unconstitutional forced-birth law. Opponents of reproductive freedom have made clear that their attacks on women will not let up, so neither can we. I thank Governor Hochul for taking a strong stand for the rights of women and families to make their own reproductive decisions without government interference.”
Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said, “Texas’ draconian abortion ban is deeply disturbing, but not surprising. Despite a majority of Americans supporting a pregnant person’s right to choose, anti-choice extremists continue to try to undermine our constitutional right to seek reproductive health care, including abortions. I have worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen reproductive rights, and I am proud to have led the charge to codify Roe v Wade in New York State state law in the Reproductive Health Act for just this eventuality. Texas’ disgraceful law shows us why we must continue to fight to protect our right to choose.”
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, incoming Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues said, “We cannot allow oppressive, anti-woman bans on our bodies to penetrate our state or nation. The GOP-led stripping of women’s rights in Texas must be stopped. We need to protect women from the Court’s inaction, which could jeopardize our reproductive rights everywhere. I am grateful to the Governor, Kathy Hochul, and Sen. Gillibrand for taking a stand to make sure these archaic laws never undermine our health care in the state of New York.”
Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre, Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus said, “Make no mistake, Texas’s draconian new abortion law is an unconstitutional attack on the reproductive rights of women across our nation. Here in New York, we will always stand up for the right of women to make their own reproductive health choices, and under the leadership of Governor Hochul, I know that our state will continue to be a safe haven for women and their access to care in the face of this abhorrent assault on our fundamental rights to reproductive freedom.”
Assemblymember Karines Reyes, Co-Chair of Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus said, “The abortion ban recently enacted in Texas is completely reprehensible. A women’s right to an abortion is just that – a right – and in New York we will always do everything we can to protect a women’s right to choose. I thank Governor Hochul for taking aggressive actions to affirm abortion rights in New York and making sure that every woman in New York knows her rights.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “While other states are cracking down on reproductive rights with needless and extreme laws, here in New York State Governor Kathy Hochul is taking action to ensure that we remain a beacon of hope. All reproductive health, including abortion must be legal, safe, accessible, and affordable. That’s what today’s announcement by Governor Hochul aims to promote.”
Robin Chappelle Golston, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts said, “Make no mistake – there is a national effort to destroy access to abortion in this country and we must be just as aggressive to expand reproductive healthcare. This is our moment, to not just hold the line on access to abortion here in New York, but to boldly advance it. Everyone deserves the freedom to control their own body, make personal decisions and shape their own future. I want to thank Governor Hochul for her shared and unwavering commitment to this vision, and for the steps she is taking to ensure New York remains a beacon of freedom and access for all.”
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said, “We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again: New York will open its doors to those in need of an abortion and stand up against any state that puts a bounty on reproductive freedom. In the face of Texas’ blatantly unconstitutional attacks on abortion access, we applaud Governor Hochul’s decisive action in partnering with experts and stakeholders to ensure New York is a haven state for all who need abortion care. We will not let Texas, or any other state that tries to follow suit, turn back the clock.”
Camille A. Clare, MD, MPH, CPE, FACOG, chair of ACOG District II said, “In a time when women’s reproductive healthcare is under attack across this country, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II is proud to stand with Governor Hochul as she prioritizes access to comprehensive abortion services. Abortion is health care and ACOG District II supports and uplifts the voices of the women seeking abortion services and the medical professionals who provide them. New York State must become a safe haven for anyone seeking abortion care and our medical leadership looks forward to partnering with the Governor and the Department of Health as they work to ensure a comprehensive and transparent system of abortion care here in New York.”
Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund said, “Texas has passed the most extreme abortion ban in the country, leading to a crisis point for abortion access. The NIRH Action Fund is pressing forward in every state and city we can to secure equitable access to abortion care — because everyone who needs care should receive with it with support, with dignity, and without fear. We applaud Governor Hochul for taking bold action to ensure that New York State is doing all it can to ensure access to all New Yorkers and all those who travel here for care. We invite governors and legislators in states across the country to follow her lead.”
Plan to Ensure the Right to Abortions in New York State
In an effort to ensure the right to abortions in New York State, the Department of Health will develop webpage on the provision of abortion care, complete with a Patient Bill of Rights. This will include information on abortion care in New York State, patients’ rights to abortion care within New York State, and links to identify providers who offer abortion services.
DOH will convene a group of experts to develop and issue a guidance document on the provision of abortion care in New York State. This will include collaboration from American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, National Abortion Federation, National Institute for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, New York Civil Liberties Union and clinical providers with an expertise in abortion care. Webinar on guidance document and clinical considerations will be open to providers across New York State and recorded for ongoing availability on the DOH website.
Guidance for Individual Provider Discretion Under Reproductive Health Act
The New York State Department of Health will develop guidance with an emphasis on clarifying the full scope of individual provider discretion under the Reproductive Health Act, and the definition of the term “commencement of pregnancy” as it relates to abortion care. The New York State Abortion Guidance Document will be shared with all New York State clinical providers able to perform abortion in New York State via the Health Commerce System.
The Department of Health will enact regulatory updates including to allow for provision of services via telehealth. These updates will ensure that medication abortion is more easily accessed during telehealth visits, and with the goal of making this an option irrespective of the pandemic.
The “Women’s Agenda” has always been complex and complicated, going way beyond reproductive freedom and the rights to control one’s own body and therefore one’s own destiny. These basic rights are fundamental to all others, particularly women’s ability to fulfill their full potential and accumulate the economic and political resources they could. But Women’s Issues have always crossed over to a range of economic rights (income parity, gender discrimination, parental leave), legal rights to housing and property, gun violence prevention, domestic violence, climate justice, criminal justice, voting rights, health care , the list goes on and on.
Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, understands the complexity, so has unveiled a detailed plan, an agenda, for how his administration would address all these categories.
He has won the endorsement of many women leaders, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, as well as scores of organizations.
In her endorsement, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, stated: “The choice is clear: In his four years in the White House, Donald Trump has exhibited unprecedented cruelty and put lives and freedom on the line time and time again—and this November, we have the opportunity to elect Vice President Joe Biden, a deeply compassionate and thoughtful leader who knows that fighting for reproductive freedom for every body is part and parcel of a just society. NARAL Pro-Choice America and our 2.5 million members are committed to powering Vice President Biden to victory this November and working with his administration to protect and expand access to abortion care and birth control. Joe Biden will stand for freedom over Donald Trump’s desire to control women. He will put a stop to Trump’s dangerous anti-choice political agenda when so much hangs in the balance. As we continue to face a public health crisis, a national reckoning with entrenched white supremacy, and attacks on reproductive freedom, another four years under Trump would be devastating—to our rights, our families, and our democracy. Vice President Biden will lead our nation forward with dignity and vision at a time when our freedoms are under unprecedented assault.”
This extremely detailed agenda is from the Biden campaign:
Joe Biden is going to build our country back better after this economic crisis and that includes ensuring we get closer to full inclusion of and equality for women. Women — particularly women of color — have never had a fair shot to get ahead in this country. Today, too many women are struggling to make ends meet and support their families, and are worried about the economic future for their children. This was true before the COVID-19 crisis, but the current global health crisis has exacerbated these realities for women.
For Biden, it’s a simple proposition: his daughter is entitled to the same rights and opportunities as his sons. He believes every issue is a women’s issue — health care, the economy, education, national security — but women are also uniquely and disproportionately impacted by many policies. As President, Biden will pursue an aggressive and comprehensive plan to further women’s economic and physical security and ensure that women can fully exercise their civil rights. Biden will:
Improve economic security. Biden will start by fighting for equal pay, investing in women-owned small businesses, expanding access to education and training, and strengthening pay and benefits in careers disproportionately filled by women.
Expand access to health care and tackle health inequities. Biden will expand access to high-quality, affordable health care for all women.
Help women navigate work and families. Biden will expand access to affordable child care and care for older Americans and people with disabilities, and provide paid leave and other important workplace benefits and protections.
End violence against women. Biden will work to end violence against women, continuing his leadership on this issue since he authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
Protect and empower women around the world.
Biden will start on day one of his Administration leading by example, making sure his political appointees, including his Cabinet, and our entire federal workforce look like the country they serve. Biden has committed to selecting a woman to be his Vice President and an African American woman to be his first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, but his commitment to ensuring women help lead his Administration does not end there. As President, Biden will nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve. He will reissue and mandate strict compliance with the Obama-Biden executive order to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce, which President Trump has ignored. He will modify it to mandate that Cabinet agencies and other executive branch agencies work with federal employee unions to create and implement a diversity and inclusion plan for the federal workforce. And, he will provide more training and mentoring opportunities to improve retention, and collect better data about who is applying for federal service positions as well as being promoted.
Biden will also structure his Administration to ensure women’s issues remain at the forefront of policy efforts. Biden knows that addressing the challenges faced by women and girls is more than just a campaign promise — it’s an imperative if the Administration is going to succeed in its broader efforts to make sure the government and economy work for all Americans. Biden will ensure that his administration aggressively protects the rights and addresses the unique needs of all women, including Black women, Latina women, Native women, Asian American and Pacific Islander women, women with disabilities, and lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women. The Obama-Biden Administration created the White House Council on Women and Girls to make sure the federal government was doing its best to tackle issues like equal pay, paid family leave, and poverty in an effective manner. The Trump Administration then disbanded it and put nothing in its place. Biden will create a White House Council on Gender Equality, chaired by a senior member of the Executive Office of the President tasked solely with guiding and coordinating government policy that impacts women and girls, such as economic policy, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy.
As President, Biden will work with advocates across the country to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) so women’s rights are once and for all explicitly enshrined in our Constitution. Biden co-sponsored the ERA nine times. As President, he will work with advocates across the country to enshrine gender equality in our Constitution. Now that Virginia has become the 38th state to ratify the ERA, Biden will proudly advocate for Congress to recognize that 3/4th of states have ratified the amendment and take action so our Constitution makes clear that any government-related discrimination against women is unconstitutional.
Biden will tackle this wealth gap, including by fighting for equal pay, ending other forms of workplace discrimination and harassment, encouraging and supporting women entrepreneurs and small business owners, making education and training more affordable, providing pathways into high-paying professions, expanding access to paid leave and child care, and strengthening union organizing and collective bargaining.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation the Obama-Biden Administration enacted, and Biden will continue to prioritize closing wage gaps and ending paycheck discrimination. He strongly supports Senator Patty Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act, which codifies and expands critical Obama-Biden protections for workers’ paychecks. He will build on it as President and protect workers against retaliation for discussing wages. Today, one in four private-sector workers are in a workplace where they can’t talk about their current wage rate with other employees without fear of retribution from their employers. Many states and the District of Columbia outlaw employers from retaliating against workers who talk about pay. Under a Biden presidency, it will be national. Biden will also:
Strengthen enforcement and accountability. Biden will take action to strengthen the ability of employers to challenge discriminatory pay practices and hold employers accountable. He will make it easier for employees to join together in class action lawsuits, shift the burden to employers to prove that any gender-based pay gaps exist for job-related reasons and business necessity, and increase penalties against companies that discriminate. And, he will hold companies accountable by expanding funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to increase the number of anti-discrimination investigators, litigators, and enforcement actions.
Make wage gaps transparent. The Obama-Biden Administration required medium and large employers to collect and disclose compensation information by race, gender, and ethnicity to the federal government so it had better insight into pay disparities and could better target enforcement. The Trump Administration only continued to collect this data at the order of a federal court, and has announced its intent to stop collecting pay data for future years. Biden believes improving pay transparency is one essential step to ending the gender pay gap.
Level the negotiating playing field. By enacting the Paycheck Fairness Act, Biden will ban the use of salary history to set wages and make hiring decisions, so employers have one less false justification for under-paying women and people of color.
Make it easier for women and all workers to organize unions and bargain collectively. Unions help close the pay gap between women and men. Women in unions earn 23% more than non-unionized women. Because Biden knows we need to build back better, he will include in the economic recovery legislation he sends to Congress a series of policies to build worker power to raise wages and secure stronger benefits. This legislation will make it easier for workers to organize a union and bargain collectively with their employers by including the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, card check, union and bargaining rights for public service workers, and a broad definition of “employee” and tough enforcement to end the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. It will also go further than the PRO Act by holding company executives personally liable when they interfere with organizing efforts. And, he’ll restore the ability of federal workers to unionize and collectively bargain. Read Biden’s full plan to encourage unionization and collective bargaining at joebiden.com/empowerworkers.
Ending Other Forms of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment
End discrimination against pregnant and nursing workers. When businesses refuse to give workers small, reasonable accommodations, like short breaks or easy access to water, pregnant workers are forced to choose between work and the health of their pregnancies. This is all too common in American workplaces, especially in industries where jobs are inflexible and physically demanding — and more likely to be held by women paid low wages, women of color, or immigrant women. Biden will follow the lead of more than two dozen states and support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, ensuring that employers offer women employees with reasonable workplace accommodations when their abilities are limited by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
Address harassment in the workplace. Tens of millions of workers, most of whom are women of color, report being sexually harassed at work. This harassment often leads to devastating consequences, including mental health problems and fewer opportunities for career advancement. In some egregious cases, women are forced out of their jobs. While harassment is illegal, there are too many barriers for people to seek justice. For example, 60 million workers have been forced to sign contracts waiving their rights to sue their employer and over one-third of the workforce is bound by nondisclosure agreements that stop workers from speaking out about harassment and discrimination. As President, Biden will make systemic changes to address sexual harassment and other discrimination so workplaces are safe and fair for all. He will advocate for and sign into law the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace (BE HEARD) Act.
Better protect domestic workers, including care workers, from harassment and discrimination. Biden will work to pass the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights so these workers — many of whom are women or people of color — are treated with dignity and respect.
Investing in Women-Owned Small Businesses
Women start businesses at two times the rate of men and now represent 42% of the nation’s businesses. But, they still raise much less capital — with only about 2% of all venture capital funds going to women-owned businesses — and are more likely to rely on personal funds. Biden will ensure women-owned small businesses have the capital, technical assistance, mentorship, and support they need to ensure they are able to grow. For example, Biden will:
Direct federal funding to women-owned businesses, including through his new historic $400 billion investment in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers, in his first term. This will be the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure, and R&D since WWII, and it will critically be designed to support small businesses and those owned by women and people of color.
Double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Obama-Biden Administration created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support small businesses, driving $10 billion in new lending for each $1 billion in SSBCI funds. Biden will extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses all told, especially those owned by women and people of color.
Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support women-owned businesses, especially those owned by women of color. Immediately after taking office in 2009, the Obama-Biden Administration started to make billions of dollars in capital available to women-owned businesses as part of the Recovery Act, and the Obama-Biden Administration’s Small Business Administration (SBA) made expansive investments in the growth of women-owned small businesses. Recognizing that women, and particularly women of color, face disproportionate and systemic barriers to securing capital for their small businesses, the Obama-Biden Administration also redesigned SBA loan programs to better serve women business owners. Biden will build on this work and expand SBA programs that target women.
Expand Access to Education and Training
Biden will ensure that women receive educational opportunities to unleash their full potential to grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class. He will aggressively enforce Title IX protections to ensure that women and girls receive full access to these opportunities, from admissions to financial aid to sports. In addition, he will:
Provide two years of community college or other high-quality training available without debt, invest in community college students’ success, and tackle the barriers that prevent students from obtaining their degree or credential. Women make up nearly 60% of the students who attend community college. Working with limited resources, community colleges have figured out how to provide a high-quality, cost-effective education to students often juggling additional responsibilities, such as jobs or child care, many of whom are single mothers. But as a country, we haven’t invested enough in making sure community colleges reach women who could benefit from their programs, or improve their quality and completion rates. Biden will provide two years of community college or other high-quality training programs without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. And, he will create a new grant program to assist community colleges in improving their students’ success, while also taking steps to tackle the barriers — like juggling a job and taking care of children — that prevent women from completing their community college degree or training credential. He will give states financial incentives to foster collaboration between community colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services ranging from public benefits and additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups. And, Biden will establish a federal grant program to help community colleges create emergency grant programs for women who experience an unexpected financial challenge that threatens their ability to stay enrolled.
Make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all families with incomes below $125,000. Biden will make public colleges and universities and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000. This proposal will help roughly roughly 8 out of every 10 families, including 91% of Black households, 88% of Latino households, and 91% of American Indian/Alaska Native households.
Support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their Communities. Biden will invest over $70 billion in HBCUs, Tribal Colleges And Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions (ANNHs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs), building the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation, and expanding career pathways for graduates of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in areas that meet national priorities, including building a diverse pipeline of public school teachers.
Provide educational opportunities for women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Too few women and people of color have been provided with the pathways to the high-skill, high wage, in-demand jobs that STEM careers offer, including in manufacturing and innovation. To address this disparity, Biden will invest in school vocational training and partnerships between high schools, community colleges, and employers. These partnerships will create programs that allow students to earn an industry credential upon high school graduation, a credential that readies them for a good-paying career. And, he will fund state-of-the-art workforce skill development, such as funds for the creation or expansion of technical training programs around digital, statistical, and technology skills, funded by the Labor Department. This will increase pathways for those — including women and workers of color — who are too often under-represented in critical technology jobs. Biden will make investments in pre-apprenticeship programs so that women have additional pathways into high-paying, union jobs in everything from designing to building infrastructure to manufacturing to technology to health.
Help develop pathways for diverse workers to access training and career opportunities. A study of Labor Department-funded individual career services — which included assistance looking for a job, help developing career plans, and one-on-one career coaching — found that earnings for workers who were provided these services increased 7 to 20%. Biden will ensure these services are universally available to all workers and people entering the workforce who need them. And, he will increase funding for community-based and proven organizations that help women and people of color access high-quality training and job opportunities.
Alleviatestudent debt burdens on women. Women, primarily Black women, hold two-thirds of the nation’s student debt. Biden will address the student debt crisis, which disproportionately affects women, by:
Forgiving all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities for debt-holders earning up to $125,000. This will also apply to individuals holding federal student loans for tuition from private HBCUs and MSIs.
More than halving payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program. After 20 years, the remainder of the loans for people who have responsibly made payments through the program will be 100% forgiven.
Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and making it more generous by offering $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years. After working in public service for 10 years, the remaining debt will be forgiven.
Stopping for-profit education programs and private lenders from profiteering off of students.
Permitting the discharge of student loans in bankruptcy.
Ensure college campuses are safe for women. Survivors and advocates have fought to hold schools accountable and give young people truly fair access to education. When survivors step forward, they should be treated with dignity and respect and heard, not silenced. The Obama-Biden Administration worked with survivors and advocates to help bring violence against women on college campuses out of the shadows and required schools change their practices. Now, the Trump Administration’s Education Department — led by Betsy DeVos — is trying to shame and silence survivors, and take away parents’ peace of mind. Instead of protecting women, they have rolled back the clock and given colleges a green light to ignore sexual violence and strip survivors of their civil rights under Title IX, guaranteeing that college campuses will be less safe for our nation’s young people. They have let colleges off the hook for protecting students by permitting them to choose to investigate only more extreme acts of violence and harassment and requiring them to investigate in a way that dissuades survivors from coming forward. Biden will immediately put this to an end and stand on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.
Promote financial literacy programs to support female entrepreneurs. Biden will promote high school programs designed to help students — particularly students of color and girls — develop proficiency in with respect to financial planning, student loans, and debt management.
Expand Pay and Benefits for Jobs Disproportionately Filled by Women
Biden will focus on improving women’s economic security by expanding the pay and benefits for underpaid jobs that are disproportionately filled by women, starting by:
Making sure educators receive a competitive wage and benefits. During the 2017-2018 school year, approximately 76% of public school teachers were women and in 2018, public school teachers made 21.4% less than workers with similar education and experience. Teachers and school personnel do some of the most important and hardest work, but too often they aren’t justly rewarded. As President, Biden will correct this wrong. Biden will triple funding for Title I, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families, and require districts to use these funds to offer educators competitive salaries and make other critical investments prior to directing the funds to other purposes. Read Biden’s full plan to give our educators the resources they deserve at joebiden.com/education.
Supporting our caregivers and early childhood educators. Caregivers and early childhood educators — who are disproportionately women and people of color — are poorly compensated. Direct support professionals and child care workers earn on average less than $12 an hour and $25,000 annually. This low pay contributes to extremely high rates of turnover in the care workforce, which hurts these workers and those for whom they care. Biden will maintain and grow a diverse, talented care and education workforce by providing increased pay and benefits and access to collective bargaining, training and education, and career ladders. Read Biden’s full plan for our caregivers and early childhood educators at joebiden.com/caregiving.
Stopping exploitation of low-wage working women, including women of color. Low-wage workers make up nearly half of all workers between the ages of 18 and 64. They are more likely to be women or people of color. Biden will:
Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 across the country, disproportionately benefitting women and people of color who make up the majority of workers earning under $15 an hour. This increase will include workers who aren’t currently earning the minimum wage, like the farmworkers who grow our food and domestic workers who care for our aging and sick, and people with disabilities. Biden will also support indexing the minimum wage to the median hourly wage so that low-wage workers’ wages keep up with those of middle income workers.
Eliminate the tipped minimum wage.For 25 years, the federal tipped minimum wage has been stagnant at $2.13, declining in value by over 40%. This perpetuates inequality for women and people of color: two in three tipped wage workers are women and more likely to live in poverty, and tipped workers of color are tipped even less than white tipped-wage workers. As President, Biden will end this discriminatory practice of a tipped minimum wage and ensure all workers have the same wage floor. He will also support small businesses like restaurants during this economic crisis, helping them get back on their feet so they can keep their doors open and pay their workers.
Stop employers from denying workers overtime pay they’ve earned. The Obama-Biden Administration fought to extend overtime pay to over 4 million workers and protect nearly 9 million from losing it. The Trump Administration reversed this progress, implementing a new rule that leaves millions of workers behind — including 4.2 million women. Since Trump walked away from protecting these workers who are fighting for a place in the middle class, they have lost over $3.2 billion in foregone overtime wages. As President, Biden will ensure workers are paid fairly for the long hours they work and get the overtime pay they deserve. And, he will ensure that domestic workers and farm workers receive overtime protections.
EXPAND ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE AND TACKLE HEALTH DISPARITIES
The Affordable Care Act was — and still is — a big deal, especially for women. Because of Obamacare, millions of women gained the peace of mind that comes with insurance. And, over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition like high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, or even pregnancy. Insurance companies can no longer charge someone more because they are a woman — a practice which costs women $1 billion more than men annually. Young adults can get coverage through their parents’ insurance plans until age 26. Insurance plans have to cover essential benefits like maternity care. And, insurance plans now have to cover critical recommended preventive services free of charge.
But now, in the middle of a pandemic, Trump is trying to strip away all health care protections for the millions of Americans who depend on the Affordable Care Act.
As President, Biden will protect and build on Obamacare — to expand access, lower costs, and make quality, affordable health care a right for all. Read Biden’sfull plan for building on Obamacare with a new public option at joebiden.com/healthcare.
Before the pandemic, the U.S. already had one of the highest rates of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth relative to other developed countries, especially among Black women, who were 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women, and Native women, who from 2011 to 2016 were 2.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than were white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. As President, Biden will reduce our unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, starting by taking the California strategy nationwide.
Maternal mortality is just one example of the types of health disparities that Biden will direct his Secretary of Health and Human Services to address.
The Affordable Care Act made historic progress ensuring access to free preventive care, including contraception. The Biden Plan will build on that progress. Vice President Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because health care is a right that should not be dependent on one’s zip code or income. And, the public option will cover contraception and a woman’s constitutional right under Roe v. Wade. Biden will also:
Stop state laws violating Roe v. Wade. Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade.
Restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The Obama-Biden Administration fought Republican attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood again and again. As President, Biden will reissue guidance specifying that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers and reverse the Trump Administration’s rule preventing these organizations from obtaining Title X funds.
Just as the Obama-Biden Administration did, rescind the Mexico City Policy (also referred to as the global gag rule) that President Trump reinstated and expanded. This rule currently bars the U.S. federal government from supporting important global health efforts — including for malaria and HIV/AIDS — in developing countries simply because the organizations providing that aid also offer information on abortion services.
Restore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate in place before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision makes it easier for the Trump-Pence Administration to continue to strip health care from women — attempting to carve out broad exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s commitment to giving all women free access to recommended contraception. Biden will restore the Obama-Biden policy that existed before the Hobby Lobby ruling: providing an exemption for houses of worship and an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious missions. The accommodation will allow women at these organizations to access contraceptive coverage, not through their employer-provided plan, but instead through their insurance company or a third-party administrator.
Health Care Protections for All
LGBTQ+ women. The Obama-Biden Administration ensured that insurance companies could no longer increase premiums merely due to someone’s gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. But President Trump rolled back these basic health care protections for LGBTQ+ Americans. As President, Biden will defend the rights of all people — regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity — to have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination. He will also ensure coverage for comprehensive care, including covering care related to transitioning such as gender confirmation surgery. In addition, he will ban so-called “conversion therapy.”
Women with disabilities. Biden will provide greater access to home and community-based services and long-term services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to each person’s needs. He will end the institutional bias in the Medicaid program and build the capacity of our system to deliver home and community-based services. In addition, Biden will direct his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights to issue guidance for states and health insurance programs clarifying how the American with Disabilities Act applies to benefits and reimbursement decisions. Also, as directed by Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Biden will ensure that entities funded by HHS do not deny medical care based on disability or age.
Incarcerated women. Women inherently have different basic health care needs than incarcerated men. Biden will condition receipt of federal criminal justice grants on adequate provision of primary care and gynecological care for women, including care for pregnant women.
Women veterans. Women currently make up 10% of the veteran population, but they are projected to be more than 16% by 2043. The Veterans Administration (VA) must continually improve its ability to meet the unique health needs and care challenges faced by the growing number of women veterans. Biden will ensure that each VA Medical Center has at least one full-time women’s primary care physician; and, within 200 days of taking office, make available a women veterans training module for community health care providers. Biden will also work with Congress to eliminate co-pays for preventive health care for women veterans and to enact the Deborah Sampson Act and ensure that the safety and privacy concerns of women veterans are addressed throughout his Administration. He will provide funding to ensure safe, reliable child care is available at all VA Medical centers.
Native women. The Indian Health Service (IHS) has been underfunded for decades, and does not have enough doctors or nurses to provide necessary care for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Indigenous women are particularly susceptible to a lack of preventive care, while also being far too likely to experience gender-based violence. Biden has called for dramatically increasing funding for IHS and making that funding mandatory, critical for helping Native American women access comprehensive health care, including preventive screenings, such as mammograms, trauma-informed care, and mental health treatment.
HELP WOMEN NAVIGATE WORK AND FAMILY
Biden has taken care of aging parents, and he’s been a single parent. He knows how hard it is to raise a family and to care for a sick family member. And, he knows how hard it is for millions of Americans who are just trying to make ends meet. The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for women in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members.
In the United States, women overwhelmingly take on the responsibilities of caring for their families, and thus are disproportionately impacted by the gaps in our caregiving system. Only one in six American workers typically has access to paid family leave if they need it. Black and Latino individuals are even less likely to be able to take paid leave. And, when parents are forced to choose between their jobs and caregiving responsibilities, the costs are great — both to them and to the economy. Women who need to work part-time on average earn lower hourly wages and benefits. And, the lack of family friendly policies is causing many women to leave the workforce completely.
These decisions have real costs for families. A recent study found that a woman in her twenties who left the workforce for five years to care for her young children earns nearly 20% less over her lifetime. A similar study estimated that the absence of paid family and medical leave costs workers and their families roughly $22.5 billion a year in wages. Consequences can be especially severe for women of color who are more likely to be both breadwinners and caregivers, all while earning lower-pay to cushion the loss of work.
Biden will make substantial investments in the infrastructure of care in our country. He will make child care more affordable and accessible for working families, and make it easier for aging relatives and loved ones with disabilities to have quality, affordable home- or community-based care. And, he will ensure all workers have access to up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, can earn 7 days of paid sick leave, and have fair and flexible schedules so they can more easily manage their families and careers.
Ensure mothers and all parents can access high-quality, affordable child care. Biden will build our child care infrastructure back better for the long-term, including by making high-quality child care affordable and preschool available for three- and four-year-olds. His plan will cultivate the potential of young children, provide parents — primarily mothers — with career opportunities and economic security, create an additional 1.5 million early education jobs, and improve the existing jobs for the essential workers who educate our young children. Biden will:
Provide 3- and 4-year-olds access to free, high-quality pre-kindergarten, laying a strong foundation for children and saving parents thousands of dollars a year on child care costs. Students who enter kindergarten school-ready are nearly two times more likely to master basic skills by age 11. One study found students who enter kindergarten school-ready are also less likely to repeat a grade and are more likely to graduate from high school. And studies show that high-quality preschool reduces the school readiness gap caused by systemic racism. So parents and guardians can choose what works for them, Biden will partner with states to provide a mixed delivery system that includes public school systems, child care centers and family child care providers, and Head Start.
Offer low-income and middle-class families an up to $8,000 tax credit to help pay for child care. Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, up to a total of $8,000 for one child or $16,000 for two or more children. The tax credit will be refundable, meaning that families who don’t owe a lot in taxes will still benefit, and Biden will actively work with child care experts to explore ways to make it advanced, so cash-strapped families can immediately benefit from the credit. The full 50% reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year. And, all families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit ensuring that in no case will they get less under the Biden plan than they are eligible for today.
Provide access to affordable, high-quality child careon a sliding scale for low-income and middle-class families who would prefer this option over the tax credit for young children. For young children ages 0-5, Biden will adopt the child care program envisioned in Senator Murray and Congressman Bobby Scott’s bipartisan Child Care for Working Families Act. He will:
Save families money by helping them with child care costs. Biden will partner with states to provide sliding scale subsidies so that the cost of child care for low-income and middle-class families will be based on what they can afford. For children under the age of 5, no family earning below 1.5 times the median income in their state will have to pay more than 7% of their income for quality care, which was the affordable child care benchmark set by the Obama-Biden Administration. Biden will also set aside a portion of the funds for tribes to expand access to quality child care for Native children, as well as for outlying areas including U.S. territories.
Invest in quality child care standards and a well-trained and well-compensated child care workforce. The quality of care matters: nearly all of brain development happens before a child turns three-years-old. For low-income children, every dollar invested in high-quality child care can result in a $7.30 return with lifetime impacts for children, as they grow up healthier, do better in school, and earn more over the course of their lifetimes. Biden will ensure families have access to the quality care their children need by working in partnership with states to ensure providers meet rigorous quality standards. These standards will include a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and support positive interactions between educators and children that promote children’s socio-emotional development. He will also provide funding reflective of the true cost of quality care. Recognizing that quality begins with supporting the early childhood workforce, Biden will invest in strategies to retain and grow the pool of diverse, talented early childhood educators and give them the time, resources and support – like coaches, training and education opportunities for certification, and financial stability – that they need to provide children an excellent education. (Read more about his plan to elevate the compensation, benefits, training and education opportunities for certification, and dignity of early childhood educators educators.)
Expand access to care that works for working parents. Many women are working in low-wage jobs with nontraditional hours, making it especially hard to find care that works with their schedules. Biden will fill critical child care shortages, including in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends, and in many rural communities and other child care deserts that do not have enough providers today. He will build safe, energy-efficient, developmentally appropriate child care facilities, including in workplaces and in child care deserts, and renovating existing facilities, so that parents and guardians never again have to search in vain for suitable child care options again. (Read more about his plan for building and renovating child care facilities). He will also offer bonus payments to providers who operate during nontraditional hours and create a Child Care Growth and Innovation fund that will provide grants to programs filling essential needs, including expanding access to high-quality care for families with high barriers to care. And, he will ensure all families are able to choose high-quality child care that works for them, whether a child care center, home-based care with a family child care provider, or an informal arrangement with a friend, family member, or neighbor. Biden will build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s efforts to ensure Early Head Start is an option for families that will benefit from comprehensive family support and child development resources, including through doubling Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Ensure families with school-aged children have expanded access to after-school, weekend, and summer care. Biden will expand Child Care Development Block Grant subsidies to increase the number of school-aged children up to age 13 in low-income families who can benefit from the program. Low- and middle-income families will also be able to take advantage of Biden’s expanded, refundable tax credit to help cover after-school, weekend, and summer care costs. And, Biden will expand support for community schools, which often provide before, after-school, and summer learning opportunities, and increase funding for after-school programs, community centers, and extracurriculars to keep children safe, learning, and having fun when school is not in session.
Make sure more military children have access to the quality child care Department of Defense provides. Biden will fully fund installation-based child care facilities and expand awareness of the U.S. Department of Defense fee assistance program, as supported by leading advocates for military families, so that military spouses can more easily pursue their education and careers and tap into respite care to relieve the stresses of deployments, and members of our military can rest easier knowing their children are well cared for.
Expand access to dignified care for older Americans and those with disabilities. Biden will help ease the financial burden on families caring for aging relatives and loved ones with disabilities and reduce unnecessary and costly hospitalizations, while providing people who need care with better, more dignified services and supports that meet their specific needs and personal choices. Biden will:
Eliminate the current waitlist for home and community services under Medicaid. Approximately 800,000 people are on the waitlist for home and community care under Medicaid. It can take as many as five years for these individuals to get the services they badly need. Biden will increase Medicaid funding to states, the District of Columbia, and outlying territories to pay for the full cost of ensuring these 800,000 individuals and families receive long-term services and supports in the most appropriate setting, with the support of qualified care providers. Following the elimination of the current waiting list, states will be given a choice to convert their current home and community based care services waivers into a new state plan option with an enhanced federal match. This will enable states to make home and community-based services more available to more people in need.
Establish a long-term services and supports innovation fund to help expand home- and community-based alternatives to institutional care. Biden believes we must move aggressively to eliminate the institutional bias that pervades our public program and will dedicate substantial resources to this fund to help states and locally based entities test and scale up innovative models that expand home- and community-based alternatives. These could include a number of approaches that provide care while allowing individuals to retain independence, such as day programs and respite services that enable unpaid caregivers to work, alternative home and community models that coordinate or directly provide care, and Medicaid buy-in models.
Biden will also ensure women and all workers have comprehensive paid leave and fair and flexible schedules.
Guarantee up to 12 weeks paid leave for all workers.Eight in ten workers don’t have dedicated paid family leave to care for a new child or loved one. Biden will create a national paid family and medical leave program to give all workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave, based on the FAMILY Act. Workers can use this leave to care for newborns or newly adopted or fostered children, for their own or family member’s serious health conditions, or for chosen family; or to care for injured military service members or deal with “qualifying exigencies arising from the deployment” of a family member. During their time away from the job, workers will receive at least two-thirds of their paycheck up to $4,000 so they can better afford to take leave — with low- and middle-wage workers receiving larger shares of their paycheck. All workers will qualify for the program, including public- and private-sector workers, part-time workers, independent contractors, workers who change jobs, and small business employees. Biden’s plan will also guarantee paid leave for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, to give them time and space to seek physical or mental care or counsel, find new housing, or take other steps to recover. Biden will pay for this national paid leave program by making sure the super wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. Biden will also make sure small businesses get the support they need to survive the crisis, keep their workers employed, and come out the other side stronger.
Require employers to permanently provide up to seven days of paid sick, family, and safe leave. As women and all workers go back to work, they need to know that they can take time off if they get sick with COVID-19, and that their co-workers can take off as well. But current emergency paid leave law leaves out tens of millions of workers, with women and workers of color more likely to be excluded. Biden would ensure paid leave for all workers who get sick with COVID-19, for as long as they need to recover and complete quarantine — leave paid for by the federal government, for a worker’s full salary up to $1,400 a week. He would also guarantee federally-funded paid leave for workers caring for family members or other loved ones sick with COVID-19. We also need to provide all workers with permanent, paid sick leave. Biden will call for the type of sick leave called for in Senator Murray and Congresswoman DeLauro’s Healthy Families Act, requiring employers to allow workers to accrue seven days paid sick leave for workers to go to the doctor, get a flu shot, recover from an illness, or care for a sick child or family member, or a family member with disability-related needs; and to provide survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking the ability to use their sick leave as “safe days” to get the services and assistance they may need to heal.
Support workers’ ability to have fair and flexible schedules. When parents choose to take a more flexible job, they are generally penalized by earning far less per hour than if they worked in jobs with inflexible and long hours. And millions of workers, especially low-wage workers, have to work in jobs where they often do not know their work schedules until days or hours ahead of their shifts, making it harder for them to count on a predictable paycheck and plan for family or professional needs like child care, elder care, or education. When companies ensure stable schedules, research has shown it can be a win-win for employers and employees, as productivity and sales increase and workers’ lives improve. Biden will work to ensure more workers have fair, predictable schedules and flexible schedules when they need it. Biden will build on the work of many cities and states around the country that have already passed fair workweek laws to give workers more stable and predictable schedules, treat part-time workers with dignity, and provide workers with options for more flexibility.
Support informal or family caregivers. Biden will ensure that informal caregivers — family members or loved ones who do this work unpaid — are supported with a $5,000 tax credit for informal caregivers, Social Security credits for people who care for their loved ones, and professional and peer support for caregivers of wounded, injured, or ill active duty service members and veterans.
END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
One of the driving forces throughout Biden’s career has been fighting back against abuses of power — whether economic or physical power. That force motivated him to write and champion the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). He wrote and spearheaded the groundbreaking VAWA in 1990 at a time when few in Washington cared about domestic violence and sexual assault. He lifted survivors’ voices, won over the skeptics, and pushed until the bill became law in 1994. The Act created a national hotline for victims. It funded shelters and crisis centers. It trained law enforcement in communities across the country so they were better prepared to investigate violence against women and support survivors of violence. And, it helped change the way Americans understand and fundamentally view violence against women.
Since then, Biden has continued this work by leading efforts to ensure Congress passed legislation renewing and strengthening the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) three times: in 2000, 2005, and 2013. Each time, the VAWA reauthorization has upped the ante and ensured that especially vulnerable communities — from Native women to LGBTQ+ individuals — are included in the Act. Also while in the Senate, Biden introduced and helped pass the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2008. As Vice President, he established the first White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and started a national effort to change the culture on campus sexual assault. After leaving the White House, Biden continued his work to change the culture of violence and end campus sexual assault through the Biden Foundation.
As President, Biden will build on his strong track record of getting things done for survivors of gender-based violence by pursuing a bold plan to save more lives and make communities safer for all. He will:
Reauthorize VAWA and keep guns out of the hands of abusers. One of Biden’s top first 100 day priorities will be to reauthorize VAWA if Leader McConnell has still refused to bring the bill to the floor in the Senate. This reauthorization includes significant, forward-looking improvements and innovations, such as reforms to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers by closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole.”
Expand the safety net for survivors of domestic and sexual violence by establishing a new coordinated housing initiative, expanding access to housing assistance, and protecting survivors from housing discrimination; providing cash assistance to survivors to help build safety and security; allowing survivors to access their retirement savings as they rebuild their lives; and guaranteeing paid domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking safe leave.
Empower and protect our young people. Biden will expand requirements for comprehensive sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence prevention education on college campuses; expand survivors’ reporting rights and options on college campuses; restore Title IX guidance for colleges and increase fines imposed on colleges for Clery Act violations (failing to report statistics about campus safety) as well as develop stronger enforcement protocols to oversee reporting under the U.S. Department of Education; and expand prevention and services to public K-12 schools.
Support the diverse needs of survivors of violence against women. Biden will strengthen and expand VAWA’s reach to women in marginalized communities. He will:
Expand grants to enhance culturally-specific services for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Since 2005, VAWA has funded a grant program to support targeted, community-driven strategies that include trauma-informed and culturally-specific programs that focus on the development of holistic prevention and intervention services for survivors from racial and ethnic minority communities. The Biden Administration will expand the resources available to scale up these initiatives and integrate a broader array of community-based organizations to address complex community needs in order to expand pathways to safety for survivors and continue to build community leadership to prevent and address domestic violence and sexual assault.
Reaffirm Tribal sovereignty to support victims and hold offenders accountable, and expand federal resources for Alaska Native and American Indian women and girls impacted by violence and abuse. More than 1 in 2 Native women are subject to sexual violence in their lives, with more than 1 in 7 experiencing it in the past year, and murder is the third leading cause of death of Native women. Biden fought for tribes’ rightful authority to protect Native women from abuse, a battle won in 2013 with the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that recognized tribes’ inherent power to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders who commit domestic violence, dating violence, or violate a protection order. Biden will reaffirm tribal sovereignty and expand the crimes for which tribes can exercise special criminal jurisdiction, including sexual assault, stalking, child violence, and trafficking, through signing into law VAWA 2019. And, Biden will take a comprehensive approach to end the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. He will work to close the data gap, increase funding and support for tribes in building their own programs, expand tribal authority, grow coordination among law enforcement agencies and provide additional resources to tribal enforcement, and expand access to culturally sensitive resources for survivors. He will ensure that federal law enforcement prioritizes public safety in Indian Country and with engagement from tribal communities. And, he will ensure Native people are at the table, listened to, and part of the solution.
Invest in the well-being of adolescent girls of color to reverse the upward trend of young women impacted by trauma becoming caught in the juvenile justice system — and offering pathways for their justice and healing to reduce their likelihood of experiencing incarceration as adults. The Biden Administration will take action to recognize the disproportionate rates of harsh school discipline practices and juvenile justice responses to adolescent girls of color who are often struggling to cope with trauma, including trauma from sexual abuse, dating violence, or trafficking. These survivors may run away from home to escape an abusive caregiver, or repeatedly miss school due to violence, and rather than being provided trauma-informed counseling, victim advocacy, or other supports, they are punished and thrust into a cycle of justice-system involvement — most of the time for non-violent behavior. As President, Biden will reinvest in the National Girls Initiative of the Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to support communities and schools to develop gender-specific and trauma-informed prevention and treatment programs and services as alternatives to girls being placed in juvenile detention. To complement the revival of the National Girls Initiative, Biden will also expand funding for the VAWA Consolidated Youth Program.
Combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color and reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking against LGBTQ+ individuals.Lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women experience high rates of physical or sexual violence by a partner at some point in their lives. Biden will reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking against LGBTQ+ women by enacting the VAWA reauthorization and working to include sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination protections in the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act reauthorization. And, he will seek permanent funding for the National LGBTQ Institute on IPV to prevent and address LGBTQ+ intimate partner violence. He will also combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. The Biden Administration will make prosecuting their murderers a priority and direct federal resources to help prevent violence against transgender women, particularly transgender women of color. He will also enforce and strengthen the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and support LGBTQ+ survivors of violence. Read Biden’s full plan to advance LGBTQ+ equality in America and around the world at: joebiden.com/lgbtq-policy/.
Support older women. Biden will commission the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct the first-ever national prevalence study on intimate partner and sexual violence on women and men ages 50 and older, expand the Elder Justice AmeriCorps program to include a dedicated focus on legal advocacy for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, including the sexual abuse of older adults in nursing homes, and increase funding for communities to build multidisciplinary teams to prevent and address violence against older women, with a focus on investing in rural communities with aging populations.
Push to repeal extreme, anti-immigrant state laws that have a chilling effect on the ability of immigrant domestic violence, sexual assault survivors, and other victims of crimes to seek safety and justice. Some state laws drive victims and witnesses into the shadows and threaten public safety. As documented in a recent national survey, immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking are increasingly afraid to contact police, pursue civil or criminal cases, or go to court to seek safety. This traps victims who either ask for help and risk deportation, retaliation by an abuser, and separation from one’s children, or stay with a violent partner and risk one’s life. Biden will work in partnership with cities, states, nonprofits, and law enforcement to build trust and push for states to repeal the laws that chill the reporting of domestic violence incidents and threaten public safety. While in U.S. care, Biden will ensure that women migrants are safeguarded against abuse or sexual assault and treated with dignity, including by providing feminine care products, banning the shackling of pregnant women, and protecting access to reproductive health care services. Biden will also follow the advice of public health experts to vastly reduce the number of people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol during a pandemic by releasing to their families or community-based care organizations those individuals in immigration detention, parents and children, who pose no risk to the community.
Ensure asylum laws protect people fleeing persecution. Biden will end Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols and restore our asylum laws so that they do what they should be designed to do — protect people fleeing persecution and who cannot return home safely. He will make sure women refugees and asylum seekers have access to necessary services and protections. And, he’ll reinstate explicit asylum protections — rescinded by the Trump Administration — for domestic violence and sexual violence survivors, whose home governments cannot or will not protect them.
Increase visas for domestic violence survivors, ending processing delays, and tripling the current cap of 10,000 on U-visas. Biden will also protect immigrant survivors who have applied for U-visas under the Violence Against Women Act and Trafficking Victims Protection Act by ensuring they are not detained or deported while their applications are in process. Read Biden’s full plan to secure our values as a nation of immigrants at: joebiden.com/immigration.
Supporting women service members and veterans. Women who sign up to wear the uniform of the United States military serve our country with the same bravery and courage as male service members. They face all the same dangers and make the same sacrifices to serve —deployments overseas, long separations from loved ones, stresses on their families — while also navigating the same types of harassment and sexism that women face in every work place. Today, women make up 16% of enlisted troops and 19% of the officer corps, and those numbers are on the rise. Every service branch of the Armed Forces must do more to address the specific needs of women service members, especially when it comes to curbing the horrific rise in reports of sexual harassment and assault in the military during the Trump Administration. Biden believes that ending assault in the military requires determined leadership and accountability at every level — starting with the commander in chief. As Vice President, Biden advocated for the creation of the Special Victims Counsel for sexual assault cases in the military. As President, he will insist that the Department of Defense leadership take urgent and aggressive action to make sure that survivors are supported and abusers are held accountable for their crimes. He will immediately appoint a commission comprised of current and former military leaders, military sexual assault survivors and their advocates, and prominent sexual assault experts, to make concrete recommendations to him within 90 days. All options will be considered to end this scourge, including how these cases should be reported and prosecuted. A Biden Administration will not tolerate the sexual assault culture that has become all too common in the veteran sector, and which can prevent women veterans from seeking out the support and services they have earned.
Confront online harassment, abuse, and stalking. Biden will shine a light on the online harassment, stalking, and abuse that now is a too-frequent reality for Americans, particularly for young people and women. He will convene a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse, allocate new funding for law enforcement training to tackle online abuse, and support federal and state legislation creating a civil and criminal cause of action for unauthorized disclosure of intimate images.
End the rape kit backlog. Biden has been on the forefront of the fight to harness the power of DNA testing and bring justice and security to victims of sexual violence. He will create Regional Sexual Assault Investigative Training Academies, which will provide cutting-edge, evidence-based and trauma-informed training, increase funding for the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and ensure that law enforcement training addresses attitudes that lead to the neglect of testing for rape kits.
Change the culture that enables sexual violence. Biden has long believed that lasting change starts with addressing the culture and engaging everyone to stand up and speak out against harassment and assault. As President, he will launch a new friends and family public awareness campaign. The campaign will highlight information about evidence-based bystander intervention, including what to do if you witness or become aware of abuse taking place, how to safely intervene, and when to get help.
Governments, economies, industries, and communities everywhere are made stronger when they include the full participation of women. Yet, women are underrepresented in positions of power in most countries around the world. Trillions of dollars are lost each year from the global economy because women are excluded from full economic participation. One in three women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. Globally, 130 milliongirls between the ages of 6 and 17 are not in school; one in five girls are likely to marry before she turns 18. These statistics are bad for women, they’re bad for countries and economies, and they are likely to worsen post-pandemic.
That’s why the Obama-Biden Administration put a direct focus on women’s and girls’ empowerment to enhance our national security. The Administration created the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security; the first U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally; as well as the first U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls. As a Senator, Biden introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which provided a framework for the United States to address gender-based violence globally. The Obama-Biden administration implemented many of IVAWA’s provisions via executive action and adopted its comprehensive approach to gender-based violence.
Yet, instead of building on the progress of the Obama-Biden Administration, Donald Trump has abandoned American leadership and adopted policies that directly harm women, including some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The effects of Trump’s policies are compounded as women and girls disproportionately bear the negative impact of the pandemic, particularly those in already-marginalized communities or living in fragile states or as migrants, displaced persons, and refugees.
Biden believes that we must support women through the current health and economic crises, draw on their expertise to ensure an effective recovery, and address the factors that leave them vulnerable in the first place. Biden will restore America’s leading role as a champion for women and girls around the world and return to a government-wide focus of uplifting the rights of women and girls at home and abroad. He will:
Support women’s leadership globally. The Biden administration will break down barriers to women’s political empowerment, supporting civic education and leadership development for women and girls around the world. Biden will ensure the voices of women leaders help shape and spearhead the global COVID-19 response and recovery, leveraging their expertise, networks, and skills to optimize our efforts around the world. Biden will ensure full implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security Act, recognizing the security benefits of women’s participation and inclusion in decision-making roles. Biden has pledged to strive for gender parity and full diversity in his own national security and foreign policy appointments, elevating women into senior national security positions and ensuring that women of color are well-represented in senior ranks.
Increasing access to education as a driver of empowerment and accumulation of wealth. Biden will build on the work of the Obama-Biden Administration to promote girls’ education, and ensure girls have the same opportunities as boys to reach their full potential.
Enhancing financially inclusive banking and increasing women’s access to capital, so that women have the resources they need to start and expand businesses.
Working with partners in countries and multilateral organizations to systematically tackle and eliminate legal and attitudinal barriers to equity and inclusion.
Incorporating the particular challenges faced by underrepresented communities into our development policies globally, including of indigenous and ethnic minority women, Afro-Latina women, and women in the LGBTQ+ community.
Confront gender-based violence globally. Gender-based violence is a barrier to girls’ education, and inhibits women’s full participation in politics and the economy, holding back entire communities and countries. Globally, women are experiencing higher levels of domestic violence due to COVID-19, while at the same time facing increased difficulty accessing resources, support, and essential sexual and reproductive health information and services. Biden will work with our partners to coordinate a global response to the crisis of gender-based violence during the pandemic and beyond by:
Restoring U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund.
Launching multi-sectoral efforts to confront gender-based violence globally.
Training law enforcement to root out the corruption that enables gender-based violence and teaching authorities to effectively investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Reviving America’s commitment to refugees and displaced persons and ensuring that women and girls fleeing gender-based violence are given the opportunity they deserve to seek asylum in the United States.
Pursue ratification for the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), so that we can better advance the rights of women and girls here at home and around the world.
The Women’s Marches that took place across the country – some 250 of them including Washington DC and New York City – are the opening salvo to the 2020 Election. Make no mistake, this was about voting, realizing that all the issues that they care about hinge on the coming election and not on changing the minds of lawmakers who currently control the levers of power: reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to self-determination; access to the ballot and access to health care; climate action and environmental justice; gun safety and domestic violence; gender equity, sexism and misogyny; discrimination and sexual harassment; immigration reform and human rights. They are all on the ballot this November.
And the Supreme Court and all the courts now
dominated by radical right-wing judges that seek to roll back women’s rights,
civil rights, voting rights, health-care-is-a-human-right. “Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, hold on,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer declared as the
march set off down Columbus Avenue, passed the Trump International Hotel, where
the most animated expressions of outrage against Trump and his administration
A singular, unifying message emerged: Dump Trump and
his henchmen and his enablers.
And a theme for the New York City march organized by Women’s March Alliance (womensmarchalliance.org): Rise & Roar.
Though it is unlikely that women will re-create the 750,000 who marched on Washington with millions more around the world who turned out in 2017 in the largest single day of protest in history, vastly outnumbering those who came out the day before on the National Mall to watch Trump swear to uphold the Constitution and protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic, it is crucial that people turn out for the women’s marches in Washington, DC (Meet at Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. at 10 am, womensmarch.com), New York City (at Central Park West & 72nd Street, 11 am, womensmarchalliance.org) and many other cities in 2020, taking place on Saturday, January 18.
The disappointing reality after that
first spectacular Women’s March is how little it accomplished. Lawmakers could
care less, based on the policies they enacted, including moving so close to
repealing Obamacare except for Senator McCain’s last-second vote, and tax
policy that discriminated against women’s health, and shifted $1 trillion in
resources from infrastructure and services for everyday Americans to the
richest 1% and corporations. They could care less for the hundreds of
thousands who pleaded for sensible gun laws, or for climate action and
There isn’t even the same buzz as in
the 2018 march in Washington and around the country (200,000 attended in New York City,
alone) , so much more significant because the protest was less about
“converting” lawmakers than mobilizing voter registration, inspiring
women to run for elected office, and driving turnout in the November mid-terms.
And they did in historic numbers, putting Democrats back in control of
the House which put the brakes to the extent possible on the worst impulses of
Trump and the Republicans. “I can do whatever I want as president,” Trump
declared at a Turning Point event with young Republicans. (After the House
Republican majority’s first success in repealing Obamacare in 2017, Trump said,
‘I’m president. Can you believe it?”)
In 2019, tens of thousands
marched in New York City, calling for action on a Woman’s Agenda
that encompasses everything from pay parity, paid parental leave, affordable
child care and pre-K to immigration reform, gun violence prevention, climate
action, criminal justice reform – in other words, the gamut of social,
political, environmental and economic justice. And yes, reproductive freedom.
During 2019, which opened with Trump
declaring a “national emergency” to justify shutting down the federal
government in order to extort billions to build his wall, migrants continued to
be separated and die in custody, thousands were sent to horrific and dangerous
conditions in Mexico; gun violence reached new heights; climate disasters have
exploded around the globe; and reproductive freedom has been further
600,000 women lost birth control
coverage last year because of the Trump Administration’s attacks on your
healthcare; funding for women’s health clinics has been eliminated and
artificial barriers to their operation have forced many to close. The Hyde
Amendment which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, serves as a
de facto ban for a quarter of low-income women.
Even more is at stake in 2020, when
Trump and Trumpism is on the ballot. Over this first term, he has been
increasingly emboldened and unbridled, to the point where he believes he can
unleash a war while schmoozing on the golf course.
So far, the organizers of this
Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, took out a permit for 10,000.
The women’s movement, inexplicably
and yet probably not, has gotten wound up, bogged down and even subverted with
other issues – racism, anti-Semitism. Leaders are bending over backwards to
show how progressive, how inclusive they are, and moving away from the key
issues that women are fighting for.
Women’s issues wind up being about
all these other issues because all of them affect women’s ability to have equal
opportunity, earn what they deserve in order to provide for their families: war
and peace, climate change, living wage, public education, health care,
affordable pharmaceuticals, clean air and water, voting rights, gun safety,
DACA and immigration reform.
But at the heart of all of them is
women’s reproductive rights, under threat as never before by a radical
right-wingers in Congress and on the courts determined to disregard law and
precedent and overturn Roe v Wade (along with Obamacare) with a Supreme Court
that has been shifted radically right because of the illegitimate appointments
secured by Trump and Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (along with hundreds of
judges throughout the federal court system that are long-lasting bombs to
womens rights and civil rights.
The Roe v Wade decision in 1973
ruled that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to
have an abortion without excessive government restriction – in other words, it
was built upon some extrapolation of privacy and property rights, rather than
Overturning Roe v Wade would mean
that women, unlike men, are not entitled to the same right to
self-determination, to make their own judgments and choices for their health,
their body, their family or their lives. And like all those other cases that
Ginsburg argued as the leading gender rights lawyer for the ACLU before
becoming Supreme Court Justice, it would re-establish the systemic barriers to
women (not men) to fulfill all their aspirations and abilities. It is as
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for president, said, when women
are forced out of the career track, they never get back to where they were if
they return at all. This I s the result of unaffordable, inaccessible quality
child care and the lack of universal pre-K.
It would essentially make women a subject
of the state, forced to give up professional aspirations to care for a child,
or spend inordinate amounts of money and resources on child care, put women
into poverty because all of these social services are also being tied to work
while doing nothing to make childcare affordable, taking away food stamps and
school lunch. It’s not one thing, it’s many different elements.
As Justice Ginsburg said, “The
decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her
well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the
government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a
fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”
And the Supreme Court decision would
not necessarily mean that the state you live in would determine if you might
have access to abortion, which would set up a different category of unequal
protection – their ruling could make abortion illegal nationwide by
establishing “personhood” rights of a fetus, in which case the fetus would have
more rights than its mother.
Women are marching for affordable
child care, quality public education, affordable and accessible health care
without higher cost for women or for pre-existing conditions (which before
Obamacare rendered women of child-bearing age), or lifetime caps on coverage at
a time when middle class families are spending 20% of income ($12,000/year) on
health insurance, 35 million can’t afford life saving drugs they are
prescribed, 30,000 die prematurely because of lack of access to health care,
and 500,000 go bankrupt because of medical bills.
Women are marching for environmental
justice at a time when the Trump Administration is making it easy for polluters
to destroy the air and water producing creating public health issues such as
asthma affecting a child’s ability to succeed in school, and worker
productivity. It means climate justice at a time when the Trump Administration
is actually prosecuting those who would try to reduce carbon emissions (they
are trying to prosecute the four auto manufacturers who said they would comply
with California’s emissions standards for anti-trust violations), while
families are losing their homes, their workplaces and communities have to spend
fortune to rebuild after climate disasters.
Women are marching for gun safety so
that parents and children don’t have the constant anxiety and school districts
and communities don’t have to spend a fortune on security rather than programs
that benefit people.
This year’s march may be the most
important one, just as the 2020 election is the most important one of our
lifetimes (and yes, 2016, as we now know, was the most important election up
until this one).
The march is an affirmation, brings
like-minded people together, validates our case, and yes, motivates and
provides a platform for people to run for office, as in 2018, and win their
The march is not about “them” it is
That is why it is so very important
to have a strong turnout for this year’s marches, the fourth year in a row,
especially in 2020, the centennial of women winning the right to vote,
especially in this election year when the nation faces an existential threat
from its own government. Women must turn out, and continue the momentum
of 2018 into the 2020 election.
Virginia could be the 38th
state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would make the ERA the 28th
amendment to the Constitution, though the opponents argue that the votes by the
other 37 states have expired, and we’ll have to go through this entire 60-year
process all over again. (Trump’s
The opponents argue there is no
reason for an amendment that certifies the equal rights of all people. But
based on the policies, laws and lawsuits at the federal and state level, an ERA
is more necessary than ever, because as we have seen from the Supreme Court,
precedents like Roe v Wade and one-person, one-vote, or equal protection for
all are fungible.
This is a crucial year for women to
turn out, not allow the momentum of 2018 to be lost, but rev up for the 2020 election.
So whip out those pink pussy hats
and march for women’s rights on Saturday, January 18. March as if your ability
to determine your own future is at stake.
As women rallied across the country in a national
day of action against the rush of abortion bans, New York City said New York
State would become a sanctuary and the city would seek to create a fund to help
women who cannot afford to obtain abortion services.
Hundreds turned out in downtown Manhattan across from the US Court Building at a rally to #StopTheBans – the epidemic of increasingly draconian anti-abortion legislation designed to force the Supreme Court to render a new decision they believe will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade which established that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy up until the time the fetus was viable outside the womb, 24 weeks. Many states not only put significant barriers that have forced clinics to close, chipping away at the “undue burden” provision that has endured subsequent Supreme Court scrutiny, leaving only one or two clinics in a state, but all but 15 states deny Medicaid funding to cover abortions, while many private insurance companies also do not cover abortion services.
“A right without true access is merely a privilege,”
said New York Abortion Access Fund’s Maddy Durante.
At the federal level, Republicans in Congress have
tried multiple times to end funding to Planned Parenthood despite the Hyde
Amendment’s prohibition of any federal funds to be spent on abortion services,
is . Now, the Trump Administration is allowing private insurers to offer
policies that do not cover maternity care, dismissing the rising rates of
maternal mortality, especially among minorities and lower income women, as
Trump reverses the gains in access to care made under Obamacare.
But though New York State’s recently adopted
Reproductive Health Act not only allows for abortions beyond 24 weeks of
gestation in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is not
viable, and also expands the professionals authorized to conduct abortions to
certain physicians assistants, nurses and midwives, if the Supreme Court adopts
the concept of fetal personhood, as these new extreme laws propose, that could
jeopardize the legality of abortions everywhere.
That is a reason that many of the speakers at the
Tuesday Stop the Bans Day of Action rally in New York called for a renewed rise
in a nationwide movement to protect reproductive freedom, and insisted, “We are
not going back.”
Here are highlights from the rally:
“From Alabama to Ohio, extremist politicians are
trying to ban safe, legal abortions,” declared Leann Risk, associate director,
community organizing for Planned Parenthood, NYC. “Activists in all 50 states are engaged in a massive
show of strength. We will not stand for the bans, not now, not ever, no way.”
President and CEO Of Planned Parenthood NYC, declared, “We say to delusional politicians, stop the
abortion bans. ..We are facing a sick attempt to strip us of fundamental
humanity and autonomy. This is a coordinated attempt to drive care underground,
to force a showdown in the Supreme Court…
“Fact: 73% of Americans do not want to overturn Roe;
nearly one in four women in the United States will have an abortion in her
“These are not lawmakers, but lawbreakers, trying to
dismantle rights we have had for nearly five decades. We won’t stand for
blatant injustice against our reproductive rights. Abortion is the law of the
land – legal today, will be legal tomorrow, as long as Planned Parenthood
(which has existed over 103 years) and ACLU and so many others exist.”
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer declared, “It’s time
for NYC to become the first in the nation to directly fund abortion care –
guarantee access to abortion regardless of the ability to pay.” He is
advocating a New York City Abortion Access Fund.
Gloria Allred, the high-profile attorney, revealed
her own terrifying experience, nearly bleeding to death when she was in her 20s
because of a back alley abortion after being raped at gunpoint.
“As I lay hemorrhaging in a bathtub, [the
abortionist] said, ‘It’s your problem now.’ Back then, the only time you would
be admitted to a hospital is if you were bleeding to death. I was running 106
degree fever. I was put in a ward with others suffering after an illegal
abortion” where the patients were shamed.
“The nurse told me, ‘This should teach you a
lesson,’” Allred said. “It taught me a lesson all right: abortion should be
safe, legal, affordable and accessible!
“We will never allow abortion to be criminalized
again.. No elected official has the right to make a choice for us. Resist.
Insist. Persist. Elect Pro Choice candidates.”
New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, said, “The
bans are about control. The people pushing the bans are chipping away at our
rights…We cannot be silent. Women are more than half the population. We will
tell [these politicians] ‘Women brought you into this world and women can take
you out [pause] of office. We will march, organize, donate and vote.”
She was soon joined by Mayor Bill DiBlasio who said,
“New York respects women. We are not going back. This is a fight for our lives.
We know women will die because of these laws. We know the American people will
support freedom of women. The rights of women matter most.”
Eve Ensler playwright, performer, feminist, and activist, best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues,” shared her own experience getting an abortion. “That abortion was the smartest thing I have done…. Tell that predator-in-chief and those misogynists, ‘Get your invasive, violent hands off our bodies. Our vaginas, uterus, minds are out of the bottle and we ain’t going fucking back. My body, my choice. Are you up for the fight?”
“We are here because we are outraged,” said Andrea Miller, president and CEO of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH). “These anti-abortion extremists tell women they can’t be trusted to make our own decisions. They don’t believe we should have the right to control our bodies, our families, our futures. That we are not able to choose our destiny. We say no. The decision whether, when, with whom to have children belongs to us, not politicians.
“New York State passed the Reproductive Health Act.
We knew what was coming, coming for our rights. We aren’t just seeing things go
back. We are partnering with people moving forward. New York is not done if
reproductive rights are not accessible, affordable.”
The NIRH is partnering with New York City on the
first Abortion Action Campaign Fund – seeking $250,000 in the city’s budget to
fund abortion care for those who cannot afford it. Call the City Council to
“We know our health, our lives, our futures depends
on stopping the bans. Make sure abortion is safe, legal, accessible,
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer urged
support for the city to pass the funding. “To say we’re livid is an
understatement… [The impact of these fetal personhood bills means] that a
woman who suffers a miscarriage could be in the middle of a criminal investigation.
Before Roe, women died, now abortion is one of the safest medical procedures
that can be performed.
“A frigging tough fight is ahead but we will never
back down,” she declared, prompting chants of “Won’t go back. Won’t go back.”
Clara Williams, a Planned Parenthood patient,
related how difficult, how complicated and how personal the decision to seek an
abortion is. At the time of her abortion, she was very young, her partner had
left her, she did not feel she could properly care for a child.
“That is a decision no one can make for you, least
of all a politician,” she said. “The rash of bans sweeping the nation, to force
a showdown with the Supreme Court, make abortion inaccessible to communities of
color, people of low income. Banning doesn’t end abortion, just marginalizes
“Abortion is nobody’s business. Whatever the reason,
it is not undertaken flippantly. But what kind of life is it if we aren’t the
authority, don’t have the right, to control our own destiny?”
“Abortion is necessary health care, and health care
is a human right. Punishing those who provide health care, the doctors, is
inhumane and cruel.”
Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties
Union said, “We won’t let them turn the 21st century into Handmaid’s
Tale. It is ironic that those who would ban abortion claim to care about life,
but Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the country, Alabama has
the highest infant mortality rate. If they cared about life, they would be
expanding health care, not making it a crime.
“I am fortunate to live in New York. New York has
stepped up to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which codifies Roe, protects
New York from criminals led by the philanderer-in-chief and his sanctimonious
minions. He may have stacked the court, but we won’t let them turn back the
The ACLU is mounting legal challenges in Georgia and
“We will tell the philanderer in chief, ‘We’ll see
you in court.’”
The vast majority – almost three out of four Americans
– support a woman’s right to choose and preserving Roe, and they vote.
“We know New York supports women’s right to control
their own bodies. We rallied to make New York a sanctuary city against the
Trump crusade against immigrants. We must also be a sanctuary for women. Thanks
to the effort of the ACLU and others, abortion is legal in all 50 states and we
have stopped the bans [from being enacted] so far. New York City, New York
State must be a sanctuary..”
But even though New York State was one of the first
to legislate reproductive rights, before the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, the laws
were still surprisingly repressive, criminalizing abortion after 24 weeks.
Garin Marshall related his experience when he and his wife learned at 30 weeks that the fetus she was carrying, “a baby that was very much wanted”, was not viable. “We were denied care in New York State [because of the 24-week ban].” But they had the means to seek services elsewhere. Nonetheless, their experience helped change the law in New York, passing the Reproductive Health Act.
“Abortion was the right choice for our family.
People are deserving of autonomy, dignity, respect,” Marshall said.
But, he argued, this is not just women’s issue. Men
have much at stake as well, for the women in their lives they love, and their
“Men benefit from access to legal, safe, affordable
abortion. Men created this problem, especially white men, who held on to power
and used it. Good men who do nothing have allowed this situation…This is our
problem, too. The house is on fire, but it is our house.
“Fight for access to abortion throughout pregnancy,
with no person left behind.”
Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who has been fighting
for abortion rights for 20 years, declared, “We can’t let these men who have no
idea what they’re talking about get away with this crap.
“I used to walk around with a necklace with a
hangar. We won’t go back, but only if we become a movement. Abortion access
Planned Parenthood of NY Chief Medical Officer Ila Dayananda, “This is an attack on all of
us. Under these laws, the fact a doctor can receive jail time for providing
service is horrific. One in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
Health care is a fundamental human right.
“There is no banning abortion, only banning safe,
legal abortion. These bans particularly hurt women of color, low income. They
should receive nothing less than compassion, expert health care, and to be able
to make the decision for themselves. There are many complicated factors in this
decision. People deserve to be empowered to make their own decision.
“We won’t go back. Smash the patriarchy.”
[Poster: Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers]
New York Abortion Access Fund’s Maddy Durante urged
financial support for those in New York seeking abortion.
“Abortion access is out of reach for many for a long
time – both financial and legal access. If private insurance doesn’t cover an
abortion, it is a potentially astronomical cost. Often, people can’t use
insurance because of privacy and safety, because they fear partner violence.
“Our clients are immigrants, people living in
affordable housing, undergoing family separation, parents and caregivers, and increasingly,
people traveling to New York. They may have Medicaid but many states don’t
allow Medicaid coverage for abortions.”
She said her organization has already provided
assistance to 590 people through grass roots fundraising.
“Care has been inaccessible for a long time. A right
without true access is merely a privilege. Petition the City Council to fund
[Poster: I wish my uterus shot bullets, so the government wouldn’t regulate it.]
Director of Operations for Black Lives Matter, NYC,
Shaavronna Newsome. “People imposing bans are hiding behind Christianity, but
this is really about declining birthrate, capitalism, patriarchy. I am grateful
to be in New York where I can choose.”
Celia Petty, a founding member of NYC for Abortion
Rights, told how she has had three abortions in her life – the first when she
was very young and had just broken up with her boyfriend. “This was the 1970s.
I wasn’t capable of raising a child. I was afraid I would regret. But I was
relieved that I could wait until ready.”
Her second was when she found she was pregnant with
a six month old baby (don’t believe you can’t get pregnant if you are nursing).
“I was trying to work full time and still care for a new baby. I couldn’t
The third time was again, despite using birth
control, when she got pregnant with a 10-month old baby in the house. “I had to
work to make ends meet. An abortion saved my life,” she says as her young
granddaughter, clings to her leg as she speaks at the podium.
“A lot of women have abortions out of more desperate
An active founding member of New York for Abortion Rights, she said, “We seek full reproductive justice, the right to bear children in a safe, healthy environment. We want a grass roots movement to demand reproductive freedom – the right to control our bodies and our lives.”
That prompts the chant: “Without this basic right, women can’t be free.
Abortion on demand, without apology.”
The New Yorkers who
rallied in front of the US Courthouse in downtown Manhattan, were among tens of
thousands of people gathered at more than 500 events in all 50 states, DC, and
Puerto Rico on the Stop the Bans Day of Action.
To be the best mother she can be, a woman needs the ability to choose.
A woman needs to have the dignity of making decisions, to have the same right to self-determination as a man, to be the master of her own destiny.
Unless the government is going to adopt all the children who are born who should have been aborted because of ailments or deformities which would lead to a life of suffering, and pay for their care, their schooling, their continued support and health care into adulthood, a faceless government should not be making those decisions for the people who would be required to provide that care, draining resources from the family’s other children and any opportunity for a woman to fulfill her own full potential.
A woman whose husband is abusive, a family that already has four children and can’t afford more, a mother who doesn’t have access to affordable day care and can’t work (and therefore would not be eligible for food stamps or housing vouchers under the Trump Administration’s new policies), should not be forced by the state to bear a child.
Iowa just passed a law banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected – around six weeks – which is before many women would even realize they are pregnant, and certainly would not be aware of any grave abnormalities. Governor Kim Reynolds (R) invited a challenge to the Supreme Court, where anti-abortion activists are pretty confident the Trump Majority with Neil Gorsuch in the commandeered Supreme Court seat will overturn Roe v Wade altogether, despite each of the Justices’ promises during their respective Senate confirmation, to respect “settled law” like Roe.
Meanwhile, Trump and the Republicans continue to chip away at access to affordable health care – for women, for children. The Trump administration is considering new tactics to take funds away from Planned Parenthood, often the only access to health services a family might have, proposing to cut off Title X funding to any organization that refers patients for abortion. Waivers for states will allow them to effectively cut off health care based on new work requirements, lifetime limits and such. Trump is also “rescinding” $15.4 billion in spending that had already been approved by Congress, including $7 billion from CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).
Consider the irony, then, of a Trump Administration pandering to the Religious Right, has moved to enable employers to deny women access to contraceptives, and attempted to prematurely cut off grants for programs that have already proved successful in bringing down the rate of teen pregnancy, replacing them with a return to useless abstinence education programs.
And this administration has shown zero interest in controlling for such birth-defect-inducing illnesses as Zika.
Texas now has maternal mortality rates on par with Third World countries. Yet, two bipartisan bills that would seek to solve America’s maternal mortality crisis have been stuck in committee for about a year. The bills, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) in the House and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in the Senate, would support state-level efforts to form review committees that specifically track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths, and then look for ways to prevent future deaths from occurring. Despite having no organized opposition from members of Congress or outside groups, the bill hasn’t had a hearing, moved out of committee or been scheduled for a vote. It has 107 co-sponsors in the House, including 23 Republicans.
My guess is the conclusion would have something to do with expanding and improving Obamacare, rather than sabotaging it (and what ever happened with that bipartisan committee?).
Instead, taking the anti-abortion crusade to an extreme, women are being prosecuted for miscarrying. A 2013 study by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women revealed a number of cases in which pregnant women were arrested and detained for complications during pregnancy, including miscarriage, with low-income and African American women most commonly targeted.
Utah is the first state to actually criminalize miscarriage, applying the legal standard of an “intentional, knowing or reckless act of the woman” as punishable as criminal homicide. This means that a woman who fails to wear a seatbelt and is in a car accident could be charged with reckless homicide if she miscarries. It also means that a woman who has a substance abuse problem would likely forego necessary prenatal care out of fear she could be prosecuted for “knowing” or “reckless” homicide by continuing to use illegal substances while pregnant.
I can’t wait to see Trump’s Mother’s Day proclamation. Will he remark how much he cherishes Melania’s motherhood so much that while she was still nursing 4-month old Barron, he had an affair with Stormy Daniels among others? Or will he take bows for terrorizing undocumented mothers with the prospect they will be forced to abandon their American-citizen children, with continuing to terrorize DACA recipients over the prospect they will soon be deported, and threatening any mother fleeing with their children violence in Central America with having their children taken from them?
Indeed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is actively trying to end asylum for domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors – which would be consistent with an Administration led by a sexual predator who enables other sexual abusers, and who wants to take America back to the “good ol’ days” when men had all the power, control and rights and women had none.
The tyranny over mothers is also through various institutionalized economic levers, including the fact that women still earn 77% of what men do for the same job (African-American women earn 64 cents and Latina women earn 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man) – which carries forward in terms of pension, Social Security and other retirement savings.
The lack of access to affordable quality child care is also a significant burden that impacts a woman’s ability to achieve professionally. As Tammy Duckworth, the first US Senator to give birth while in office, noted, “Why should child care cost more than college tuition in most states? These are questions that simply should not exist in one of the most prosperous nations on the planet. And let’s not forget that this is an economic issue, as well. When we lose people in the workforce because of outlandish childcare costs or inadequate family leave policies, it negatively impacts the economy as a whole. And those Americans who drop out of the workforce have a hard time re-entering.”
In other words, women are not able to fulfill their full potential or productivity, are in less of a position to compete or challenge a man for a position or a male supervisor and are more dependent an unable to leave abusive relationship.
The last time women made inroads in the workplace – when there were screams for on-site child care, job-sharing, flex-time, work-at-home – was when there was such a demand for workers, employers were forced to draw women into their workplaces and retain them. It is not a coincidence that the “#MeToo” and “#TimesUp” movement coincides with another tight labor market.
“The Family and Medical Leave Act currently on the books was signed in 1993. The Internet had just gone public. Cell phones were still the size of bricks — and had just begun to text. Bill Clinton had just been inaugurated… The world was very different then. Our technology and our nation have come a long, long way. And yet our policies on paid family leave have gone nowhere,” Duckworth writes.
“America remains one of the only industrialized nations in the world with no set policy on paid family leave. It leaves working parents in a tough position. And I’m one of millions working to balance family and career.”
Though women are the main breadwinners or joint breadwinners, in two-thirds of the families in America, having a child is the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse; single mothers are more likely than any other group to file for bankruptcy and more likely than people living in poor neighborhoods; and single mothers who have been to college are 60 percent more likely to end up bankrupt than those with just a high school diploma.
Women make up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers, but Republicans in Congress have fought against raising the minimum wage or even thinking of requiring a living wage.
Yet the Republican-controlled Congress just gave the richest 1% of households in America a huge tax windfall of over $48,000 per millionaire, and slashed corporate tax rates virtually in half (even though many profitable companies paid zero or minimal tax), is now pushing to cut $20 billion in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), commonly known as food stamps, used by 40 million people, mainly children, seniors and people with disabilities. Walmart is getting a tax cut of $2.2 billion this year alone. Yet in just one state – Ohio, more than 11,000 of its employees and their family members qualify for SNAP because they earn so little. Walmart’s ten-year tax cut could pay for the entire $20 billion in SNAP cuts proposed in the farm bill.
Policies like these put mothers in a constant state of insecurity – over finances, health care, child care.
“The deck has been stacked against working women and moms for years. And with the Republicans in charge, it’s getting worse — a lot worse,” noted Senator Elizabeth Warren.
In Trump’s misogynistic, right-wing America, motherhood has come to mean a means of controlling, containing, disempowering women.
Here’s a radical idea for Mothers Day: Honor mothers by respecting their rights, beginning with the right to choose motherhood. Add to that the right to access affordable health care, child care, and equal pay.
On the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration and the first Women’s March that was the largest single day of protest in history, women came out in force again in New York City and more than 250 locations around the country.
They marched for womens rights, reproductive freedom, for health care; for #MeToo and #TimesUp to take a stand against sexual assault, harassment, rape and extortion. They marched for gun control and against domestic violence. They marched for families, for immigrants, for Dreamers, for the LGBTQ+ community. They marched for Mother Earth and the environment, for science and facts. They marched for voting rights, for a free press and for truth. They marched to assert basic American values- its better angels – of tolerance, diversity, and for economic, environmental, political and social justice.
200,000 was the official count in New York City – marchers were lined up from 63rd Street to 86th Street, but all along the side streets as well, where it took as much as 2 hours just to get onto the Central Park West march route.
And unlike last year’s march which brought out millions, reflecting the despair of the aftermath of the 2016 election and was supposed to send a message to Trump and the Republicans who controlled Congress and the Courts (they didn’t get it), this day of marches – some 250 around the country bringing out some 2 million – was about action: it kicked off a voter registration drive to add 1 million to the rolls, the candidacies of a record number of women running for office (16,000 women have reached out to Emily’s List for support in 2017), and a Get out the Vote drive for the 2018 midterms.
“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed another.
The vulgarity, misogyny, bigotry and racism that Donald Trump brought to the Oval Office came down to the streets, with bursts of profanity in words (“shithole” was a popular one that Trump just introduced to the vernacular only a week ago) and gestures, with marchers giving the finger as they passed Trump International Hotel, the closest incarnation they would ever have. The tone was decidedly more angry, more outraged than a year ago.
“Over the past year, basic rights for women, immigrants, LGBTQ+, the religious and nonreligious, people of color and even Mother Earth have struggled to survive under the weight of the current administration. America’s First Amendment has been challenged and healthcare for millions has been threatened. We must stand together to demand and defend our rights. We will not be silent. We must remind everyone that red, white, and blue are the colors of tolerance,” stated Womens March Alliance.
And they marched with a purpose: to get people to register to vote, to run for office, and to cast their ballot.
“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed others.
Hillary Clinton tweeted, “In 2017, the Women’s March was a beacon of hope and defiance. In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere. Let’s show that same power in the voting booth this year. #PowerToThePolls”