Women's Rights / Reproductive Justice

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How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist

Recent Updates

  • 10/27/17: On November 1, a judiciary committee will hold a hearing to discuss the bill H.R. 490: Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017. The proposed bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Steve King of Iowa, would make it a federal crime to knowingly perform abortions "without determining whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat," "without informing the mother of the results," or "after determining that a fetus has a detectable heartbeat", which experts say can be as early as 6 weeks.[1] Physicians who perform the procedure could face up to five years in prison, a fine, or both. The only exception to the bill is if a woman has a physically life-threatening, “not psychological or emotional" — condition or illness. [2]
  • 10/6/17: The Trump administration issued a new regulation that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate by allowing a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. [3]

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Laws Proposed by Congress

Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice

  • S. 337 would entitle every individual to a family and medical leave insurance benefit nationwide. Currently it is limited only to states with legislation in place already. The bill will grant up to 60 days of paid leave, and the language is gender neutral (meaning both men and women can take it).[4]

Harmful Legislation

  • H.R. 490 would prohibit abortion in cases where a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which could be as early as 6 weeks.

  • H.R. 7 would permanently ban federal funding for abortions.

  • S 231 would implement equal protection under the 14th Amendment for "the right to life of each born and preborn human person."

See the State and Local Pages for state-by-state legislative tracking.

Access to Reproductive Health Services[edit]

  • Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of reproductive health care in the country, with about 2.5 million patients. [5]
  • While abortion makes up only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services, any organization (including Planned Parenthood) that provides abortion services would become ineligible to receive any federal funding under the Republican health care bill.[6]
  • Over 300 bills restricting access to reproductive health care have been filed for the 2017 legislative session. [7]
  • President Trump has appointed anti-abortion and anti-birth control advocate Teresa Manning to lead federal family planning programs. In her role as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human services, Manning will be in charge of how Title X funds are shared, which go to clinics that provide contraceptive and preventive health services. [8]
  • Dawn Laguens, Vice President of Planned Parenthood has said that someone, "someone who promotes myths about birth control should not be in charge of the office that is responsible for family planning at HHS." [9]
  • New appointee to the HHS, Valerie Huber, has been a vocal advocate for abstinence-only education programs in schools. [10]
  • The U.S. is currently at an all-time low for unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy. This implies that accurate and informative sex education remains important. [11]
  • "Sex education is supported by the American Medical Association, by the American Academy for Pediatrics, and by a majority of Americans, including more than 90% of both parents and teens." [12]

See the State and Local Pages for information about bills impacting reproductive health care in your state.

Wage Gap for Women[edit]

About 42 percent of women are the sole or primary breadwinners in families with children, yet they are underpaid compared to male counterparts [13].

  • Women earn about 90 percent of what men are paid until age 35. After that point, earnings for women are 74–82 percent of what men are paid [14]. Because of lower lifetime earnings and different work patterns, the average Social Security benefits for women 65 and older are about $14,044 per year, while they are $18,173 for men 65 and older. [15]
  • At every level of academic achievement, a woman’s median earnings are less than a man’s median earnings [16].
  • Unemployment rates are higher than the national average for single mothers [17].
  • Black and Latina women experience higher unemployment than white men and women. The unemployment rate is 7.1% for Black women, 5.6% for Latina women, and 3.8% for white men. [18]
  • For every dollar made by white men, white women are paid $0.80, which translates into over $10,000 less earnings in a year [19].
  • African American women are paid $0.63 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.54 for every dollar made by white men. [20]
  • Compared to their white male counterparts, Asian-American women’s salaries have the smallest gender pay gap at 85 percent of white men’s earnings. [21].
  • Women in same-sex couples have a median personal income of $38,000, compared to $47,000 for men in same-sex couples and $48,000 for men in different-sex couples. [22]
  • Transgender women earn up to one-third less after they transition. [23]
  • Women with disabilities are paid just 72 cents for every dollar men without disabilities are paid. Men with disabilities are paid 75 cents to an able-bodied man's dollar [24].
  • A new study by the Institute For Women's Policy Research shows that a wage increase for women would benefit 26 million children across the country. The poverty rate for children with a working mother would be cut by half in at least 14 states. Jessica Milli, PhD, who directed the study, noted that for “policymakers who want to get serious about addressing child poverty in their state, achieving equal pay for women should be central to their efforts.” [25]

See the State and Local Pages for information about employment for women in your state.

Congressional District Breakdown[edit]

  • Find out what the pay gap is in your state and congressional district here.

Gender-Based Violence[edit]

  • One in three women in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.[26]
  • On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls, an average of close to 15 calls every minute.[27]
  • Intimate-partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.[28]
  • There is a link between domestic violence and homelessness. Access to safe, affordable housing is the number 1 concern for survivors. [29]
  • 80% of homeless mothers have experienced domestic/sexual violence, and survivor-centered policies are more important than ever. [30]
  • A link also exists between domestic violence and gun violence. At least 2,000 deaths every year in the U.S. are a result of domestic violence, more than half of these intimate-partner homicides are carried out with a gun. [31]
  • According to research provided by Jennifer Rand, "An American woman is fatally shot by her partner every 16 hours." [32]
  • While a federal law exists to prevents those convicted of domestic abuse from buying or owning a gun, there are many loopholes to the law. In order to better protect victims of domestic violence federal law needs to be reformed in order to fill these gaps. [33]

See the State and Local Pages for information about gender-based violence in your state.

A database called the Victim Information and Notification Exchange, or DHS-VINE, is now part of the Administration's crackdown on undocumented immigrants. This database provides information on the detention status of undocumented immigrants who have been accused of crimes. For some people in this database, their only crime is their immigration status. This database includes personal information, which puts undocumented immigrations who are victims of abuse in danger. This is particularly dangerous for women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence.[34]. See our Immigration page for more information.

Trump's Child Care Plan[edit]

  • Trump's child-care plan[35] would allow parents to deposit up to $2,000 pretax annually on behalf of children. The government would match half of the first $1,000 deposited each year by lower-income parents (though the plan doesn’t define “low income”). Because tax savings would be proportional to income tax rates, the highest earners would benefit the most. For example, a family in the 39.6% top tax bracket would save $396 in tax for every $1,000 they deposited (plus the additional benefit of not paying tax on interest earned in the account). In contrast, a family in the 10% bottom tax bracket would save just $100 on the same $1,000 deposit.
  • The new deduction would allow parents earning less than $250,000 per year ($500,000 if married) to deduct the cost of child care up to their state average. The plan spells out that even stay-at-home parents would receive a benefit, so, unlike the current child-care tax subsidies, parents could collect the tax savings without spending anything. As with the plan’s savings accounts, families who pay the highest tax rates would benefit most, and low-income families would benefit little or not at all.
  • Trump’s plan includes a “child-care spending rebate” for low-income parents through the existing earned income tax credit. Trump’s campaign website says that “this boost would be half of the payroll taxes paid by the lower-earning parent, and would be subject to an income limitation of $31,200.” As a result, low-income married couples would benefit only if both spouses work. In contrast, high-income couples with one worker would benefit from other provisions. As with all tax benefits, families wouldn’t get financial assistance until they file their tax returns in the spring, many months after child care bills are due.
  • With a continued absence of national policies on childcare and family leave, women have reached the outer limit of their ability to multi-task. Since the last days of Bill Clinton's presidency, when women's labor force participation rate was looking to soon equal the men's at 70 percent, that number has dropped. The country is losing workers, money and growth by failing to invest in family-friendly policies for workers.[36]

Trump's Maternity Leave Plan[edit]

  • Trump's policy, by definition, excludes paid leave for new fathers. This raises concerns that the maternity leave policy could, therefore, widen the wage gap, by taking women out of the workforce while men continue working.[37] If men were offered paternity leave, the wage gap would likely decrease. It has been reported that mothers earn approximately 7% more, on average, for every month the father takes a leave of absence at work for child care.[38] Thus, Donald Trump's current policy on maternity could hurt women more than it would help.
  • It is possible that benefits received under the new policy will vary widely based on state. At present, the maximum unemployment benefits an employee is eligible to receive is decided on a state-by-state basis, and the state also decides how to define what parents' earnings were before they took leave.[39]
  • During Trump's State of the Union on February 28th, new language was used to describe the recipients as "new parents" which might include birth fathers, adoptive parents and LGBTQ parents who didn't give birth. There is no confirmed change away from only offering leave to "birth mothers."[40]

Trump's Budget Plan[edit]

  • Through an analysis known as gender-based budgeting, President Trump's budget cuts disproportionately affect women in the United States. [41]
  • In the U.S. women benefit from social safety net spending more than men.[42]
  • President Trump's budget proposes cuts to: Medicaid, Housing Assistance, SNAP (food stamps), and Cash Welfare. These are all programs where women receive 60% or more of the total spending. [43]

Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy
Vulnerabilities in Their Strategy

  • 75% of people, including Republican men and women, oppose defunding Planned Parenthood. [44]
  • Currently, only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortion.[45] If Planned Parenthood were defunded, the biggest effect would be eliminating the other 97% of services Planned Parenthood provide—like STD screening, cancer screening and prevention, prenatal services, and family practice services.[46]
  • The prospective defunding of Planned Parenthood faces many vulnerabilities, one of which is the organization's high favorability. It has been found that only 29% of Americans view Planned Parenthood as unfavorable; defunding it could be a public relations nightmare.[47] Furthermore, the GOP has no viable replacement for Planned Parenthood. In 2015, a federal court was provided with a 2,000-item list that was meant to comprise practical replacements for the same family planning services that Planned Parenthood offered. However, it fell short, as a federal judge found that none of the services listed would accommodate the services Planned Parenthood provided. (The list included dentists, cosmetic surgeons, and nursing home caregivers.) It was thus found that no other health-service provider could handle the scope of care and density of patients that Planned Parenthood helps; it's practically irreplaceable.[48]