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 create equality in the workplace and to improve the health, safety and quality of life for women and all Americans.
We have made significant progress in women's health over the past decade, but now is the time to strengthen our education and prevention efforts because, as the old saying goes, knowledge is power. As you may know, in 2007, at the age of 41, after I found a lump in my breast while doing a routine self-exam, my doctor diagnosed me with breast cancer. As my own personal story indicates, despite the perception, young women can and do get breast cancer.
For this reason, I introduced the EARLY Act -- the Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act of 2009. The EARLY Act will teach young women and medical professionals alike about risk factors, warning signs of breast cancer and good breast health, which will help women make informed decisions about their bodies. I am thrilled that the EARLY Act was signed into law in March 2009 along with the comprehensive health reform legislation. I will work to ensure sound implementation of this legislation and I will continue to fight to make sure that all women can take control of their health.
Fairness in the Workplace:
Women have the right to be free from discrimination, and, in the workplace, deserve equal pay and economic opportunities. Women make up a growing share of our workforce, and more women than ever before are corporate executives, business owners, and high level government officials.
I am very pleased to report that on January 29, 2009, H.R. 11, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was signed by President Obama, making it the very first bill he signed as President of the United States. This long overdue legislation restores basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers and creates a legal framework for them to protect those rights. As the mother of two daughters, I am proud that the first major piece of legislation signed by President Obama reaffirms the basic and fundamental American value of equal pay for equal work.
I also proudly supported the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will end wage discrimination against those that work in primarily female or minority dominated industries. The Paycheck Fairness Act passed the House in January of 2009. While it has yet to pass the Senate, I will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure this legislation becomes law.
As a woman who believes in the protection of reproductive choice, I affirm that abortions in this country should be safe, legal and rare. Currently, the law as upheld by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade protects a woman's decision to terminate a pregnancy during the first and second trimesters. After this stage, states may regulate the abortion procedure in way that are reasonably related to protection of the mother's health. I believe strongly in a woman's right to make educated medical decisions regarding her reproductive health. Not only do I support a woman's right to choose, but also her ability to obtain legal pharmaceuticals such as emergency contraception and birth control.