The wage gap among men and women is still prevalent and American women make approximately 78 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. The pay gap for female minorities is even greater. Last Congress, I voted for, and Congress passed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, giving women the right to seek legal redress for wage discrimination. Additionally, I am a proud cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act to deter wage discrimination by ensuring that employers who try to justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job show that the disparity is job related and necessary. This legislation would also strengthen legal remedies to include punitive and compensatory damages.
Last Congress, I was proud to introduce H.Res. 114, the National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which exists to overcome the final barriers for women in sports by celebrating female athletes' achievements, acknowledging the positive influence of sports participation in women's lives, and urging equality and access for women in sports. Athletics are one of the best opportunities for personal growth, and yet there has not always been an equal opportunity for everyone to participate. As a former athlete, I know firsthand the benefits of competing in sports; and everyone regardless of background should have equal access to be involved. I was privileged to introduce this legislation, which passed the House of Representatives on February 10, 2009, and highlight achievements of women in the 13th District.
Women have unique health care needs, and often make important health care decisions for their families. In March 2010, my colleagues and I in Congress enacted the Affordable Care Act to deeply benefit women's health. The new law protects women by providing insurance options, covering preventative services, and lowering costs. Specifically, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to women because of a pre-existing condition such as cancer or having been pregnant. The law also provides women with the freedom to choose from any primary care provider, OB-GYN, or pediatrician in their health plan's network without a referral. One of the most beneficial provisions of the new law allows women to receive preventative care without copays, including mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits. Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act prohibits health insurers from charging women higher premiums than they charge men. For more information on the Affordable Care Act and its benefits for women and families, please visit: www.healthcare.gov.
Finally, women's needs are especially critical on an international level. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have worked to address issues affecting women both at home and abroad, especially access to education and health care. In order to improve access to health care, I support funding to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve the health of newborns, children, and mothers in developing countries. This Congress, I continue to support adequate funding for the United Nations Population Fund, a multilateral provider of family planning and reproductive health services.