As a woman and mother, I am committed to legislative initiatives that promote gender equality and awareness of women's issues. I have worked consistently to improve the health, safety, and economic empowerment of women and their families.
The health and safety of women and girls will always be a priority for me. That is why one of the legislative achievements of which I am most proud is the Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41, I wanted to ensure that all young women would have the knowledge, resources and support necessary to make informed decisions about their own breast health. Under the EARLY Act, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is implementing a national education campaign about the threat that breast cancer poses to young women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The EARLY Act was enacted into law in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act and recently reauthorized in 2014.
The EARLY Act was just one of many Affordable Care Act provisions which promote the health of women and their families. The ACA makes it possible for women to get preventive care services such as mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits, with no out-of-pocket costs. It also protects women against being charged a higher premium just for being a woman. Lastly, 4.3 million women were able to obtain coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace from October 2013 to March 2014 alone. Much of my support for the ACA is driven by my dedication to promoting women's health.
When it comes to weighing personal medical decisions, I trust women. I trust women to make their own decisions about what is best for their bodies and their families. To that end, I will continue to be a staunch advocate for a woman's right to access all legal, safe resources for planning her family.
The Supreme Court has upheld legal assertions that decisions regarding a woman's body should be kept between her and her doctor. I will always defend this right, including access to abortion services, for women here at home and around the world as a principle tenet of women's comprehensive health.
Violence Against Women
Additionally, we cannot truly promote the health of women without working to prevent and end violence against women and girls. Domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and assault of women are not private issues to be kept in the shadows -- they are unacceptable violations of basic human rights. In addition to always supporting a fully-funded, inclusive Violence Against Women Act, I am proud that two of my bills challenging violence against women -- the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act and the Trafficking Awareness Training for Healthcare Act of 2015 -- have recently been signed into law. The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act encourages states to allow a woman to terminate the parental rights of a rapist, and the Trafficking Awareness Training for Healthcare Act develops best practices for health care professionals to identify and respond to victims of human trafficking.
Healthy and safe women create healthy and safe homes, communities, and nations. I will always fight for policies that allow women and their families to remain healthy and free from violence.
Women's Economic Agenda
As our President has said, "When women succeed, America succeeds". At a time when the makeup of our workforce is shifting like never before, this could not be truer. We must commit to creating workplaces that are fair, inclusive, and family-friendly.
To do so, Democrats have created the Women's Economic Agenda, a package of bills focused on promoting economic security and equality for women. This package includes the Paycheck Fairness Act, which I am proud to cosponsor and would help ensure all employees receive equal pay for equal work. It also includes the Healthy Families Act to ensure paid sick leave for men and women, legislation to provide increased access to affordable child care, and initiatives to strengthen women's retirement security.
As a working mother, I am proud to fight for these policies because in 2015, there is no excuse for the average American woman earning only 78 cents for every man's dollar, or for parents to have to choose between caring for their children or being able to put food on the table.