Conservatives have been trying to dictate medical decisions to women seeking an abortion, defund Planned Parenthood, cut funding for prenatal services and repeal Obamacare -- the law that, among other things, prevents insurers from charging women higher rates or denying benefits outright while covering thousands of women 26 and younger.
I support a woman's right to reproductive freedom and will vote against any statutory or constitutional measure that would repeal or reduce any currently existing reproductive rights or freedoms, or which jeopardize or degrade the confidential relationship between a patient and her doctor. The current Republican-led effort against women's reproductive rights is a bizarre reflection of the party's agenda to set back social progress 50 years or more.
But there's much more to "women's issues" than reproductive rights.
In the Maine Legislature, I have battled attempts to insert government into the sacred doctor-client privilege, but also to weaken child labor laws, prohibit unions in women-dominated child care, shift income taxes to the middle class and put more guns in the hands of teenagers.
To support working women and their families, we must close the gender pay gap and seriously address the poverty rate among women and children. Laws that affect the jobs and pocket books of women and their families include those regarding minimum wage, family leave, child care, collective bargaining and gender discrimination.
The average female full-time worker still makes 77 cents for every $1 a man does at the same job, or $10,784 less annually. Over a lifetime, this is a huge gap that leads women to poverty as senior citizens. The gap improves to 87 cents for women in unions.
A woman making the federal minimum $7.25 an hour full-time earns $3,100 less than poverty for a family of three, but Congress has raised that wage only three times in the past 30 years as food prices doubled and tripled.
A Rutgers University study found that a woman who gets 30 or more days of paid maternity leave is 50 percent more likely to get a raise the year after her child's birth than those with no paid leave.
These are the issues that women care about, not whether their representative in Congress is a maverick. Raise the minimum wage. Bolster family leave. Improve child care. Strengthen unions. And balance the budget in a way that protects programs that help families prosper.
Before I was in government, I was holding government accountable as a civil rights lawyer fighting gender discrimination in the workplace.
In six years in the Legislature, I've supported legislation that creates economic opportunities and protects fundamental rights, especially for women and children. The Maine Women's Lobby gave me a 100% rating in its most recent review, in part because I voted to increase the minimum wage, expand family leave, strengthen unions, empower child-care workers to collectively bargain, reform the tax code, and expand broadband to rural communities where women struggle disproportionately to access education, job training and global markets.