Issue Position: Women's Issues

Issue Position

"Throughout our history, the United States has been a leader in advancing women's rights and opportunities. While much work remains here and abroad, I join many of my colleagues and constituents in saluting the contributions of women - contributions that for too long have been minimized or overlooked altogether." - Rep. Adam Schiff

Topics in this section:

· Advancing Women's Health At Home and Abroad

· Keeping Women Safe

· Defending Women's Interests Worldwide

· Combating Gender Discrimination

· Ensuring Access to Comprehensive Family Planning

· Honoring Women's Contributions

Advancing Women's Health At Home and Abroad

Congressman Schiff has consistently supported funding for research on breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and postpartum depression. He cosponsored the WISEWOMAN Expansion Act to bring heart disease and stroke screening to women in all fifty states, and the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act, which requires health insurance plans to cover a minimum hospital stay for certain cancer procedures. Schiff also supported legislation to require equitable coverage and unobstructed provision of prescription contraceptive drugs, devices, and services.

Congressman Schiff was proud to support the reauthorization of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides cervical cancer screenings and breast cancer screenings, including mammograms, for low-income women. Early detection and early treatment intervention greatly increases a woman's chance of beating cancer. Congressman Schiff strongly supported this program because it provides screenings to detect cervical and breast cancer early on for low-income, uninsured women who wouldn't otherwise have access to such life-saving screening services. The reauthorization legislation was signed into law in April 2007.

Preventing Violence Against Women

Congressman Schiff was an original cosponsor of legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and was present at the White House when the President signed it into law. As a Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Justice, Congressman Schiff has fought hard for full funding of Fiscal Year 2008 grants under the Violence Against Women Act. These funds would expand the capacity of law enforcement officers and prosecutors specifically targeting crimes against women. Increased funding would allow law enforcement to identify and respond to violent crimes against women and would also provide much needed victim services.

Congressman Schiff has been a long-time advocate of efforts to prevent and treat domestic violence, child abuse, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. In April 2007, he supported a House resolution that was designed to raise awareness and encourage prevention of sexual assault. The legislation found that one in six women have been victims of rape and that 44 percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. The legislation recognized that responding to sexual assault starts with prevention and that rape crisis and women's health center programs can reduce the prevalence of sexual assault in our communities.

Defending Women's Interests Worldwide

Congressman Schiff is also concerned with the physical, social, and economic well-being of women in other parts of the world. As a Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Congressman Schiff has been active at ensuring adequate funding for measures that protect the rights of women overseas. Congressman Schiff sought funding for resources to combat international trafficking, which he views as the practice of modern-day slavery. He also strongly supported international reproductive health and family planning programs and restoring funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The appropriations bill includes language addressing concern about women's rights in Pakistan and human rights abuses against women and girls in Guatemala.

Congressman Schiff also urged American support for the United Nation's Platform for Action to advance the status of women and an increased commitment to improving health care and education for women in developing countries. He has also advocated funding to protect and assist victims of human trafficking and to help countries meet minimum standards for the elimination of such practices.

Combating Gender Discrimination

Throughout his career, first as a public prosecutor and a California State Senator and currently as a Member of Congress, Congressman Schiff has fought to improve gender equality by advancing women's health and security while expanding education and employment opportunities for women in the United States and around the world. Congressman Schiff supports an amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee equal rights for men and women. The Equal Rights Amendment, which he cosponsored in the 110th Congress, would prohibit denying or abridging equality of rights under law on account of sex.

The persistence of a wage gap continues to affect women of all ages, races, and education levels. The most recent data shows that in 2006, women earned 77 cents for every dollar a man earned, and it has been estimated that working women stand to lose $250,000 over the course of their career because of unequal pay practices. For this reason, on Equal Pay Day - April 24, 2007 - Congressman Schiff cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to eliminate gender-based wage discrimination by requiring that employees be educated about their rights and permitting women to seek recourse under the Equal Pay Act. Congressman Schiff recognizes that equal pay is a family issue, and that by eradicating unfair treatment in the labor market, families gain the resources they need to ensure their children have access to a better future.

As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Schiff has used his position to seek federal funding for programs that promote educational and economic opportunities for women. For example, the Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA) provides grants for local, state, and national projects to combat gender discrimination, overcome sex stereotyping, and achieve equity across all levels of education. The Women's Business Center Program offers education, training, and counseling to women entrepreneurs in low-income areas, while the National Women's Business Council is a federal commission that provides independent advice to the President and Congress on issues of economic importance to women business owners.

Ensuring Access to Comprehensive Family Planning

Half of all pregnancies in the United States - 3 million pregnancies - are unintended, and half of these result in an abortion. Women with unintended pregnancies are less likely to obtain adequate prenatal care, and a child born from an unintended pregnancy is at greater risk of low birth weight and dying in its first year of life.

Congressman Schiff believes that we must expand access to preventative health care services and education programs that help reduce unintended pregnancy, lower the rate of infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and reduce the number of abortions.

For this reason, Congressman Schiff is an original cosponsor of the Prevention First Act of 2007, which is an omnibus family planning measure. The legislation includes a range of important provisions that would increase funding for Title X family planning, would require health insurance plans to cover prescription contraceptives if they cover other prescription drugs, would require emergency rooms to give victims of sexual assault access to emergency contraceptive (EC) at their request, and would provide funding for comprehensive sex education programs.

Reducing unintended pregnancy and infection with STDs are important public health goals, and Congressman Schiff believes that the Prevention First Act will improve access to family planning services for all women in need.

Honoring Women's Contributions

As part of Women's History Month each March, Congressman Schiff pays special tribute to the contributions made by women in the 29th District of California in a special ceremony. Nine women were recognized at the 2007 Women of the Year luncheon.

Congressman Schiff also seeks congressional recognition for national heroes, from Alice Paul for her role in the women's suffrage movement, to Correta Scott King, flying to Alabama to attend her funeral. Congressman Schiff voted for a resolution that supports the goals and ideals of a National Suffragists Day to promote awareness of the importance of the women suffragists who worked for the right of women to vote in the United States. This resolution passed the House in May 2007.

Congressman Schiff also was proud to support legislation to honor International Women's Day, which occurs on March 8th of each year. The resolution found that women worldwide participate in diplomacy and politics, contribute to the growth of economics and improve the quality of lives of their families, communities and countries. The resolution passed the House in March 2007. Congressman Schiff spoke before the full House in honor of the 2006 International Women's Day.