Women's Vote in 2012 Key to Ending Attacks on Economic and Reproductive Rights

by Terry O'Neill, NOW President

Aug. 26 is Women's Equality Day. As we celebrate the 91st anniversary of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote, it is now more important than ever to mobilize women voters. It is time to end the countless attacks by the right-wing in Congress and in state legislatures across the country on women's health and economic rights. Today, we need to start encouraging and motivating women to vote in 2012 for leaders who understand the needs of women in order to make important decisions that can impact their lives significantly.

Most recently, a 12-member super committee appointed by House and Senate leaders has been charged with proposing at least $1.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years. Women are poorly represented on the super committee -- it consists of 11 men and only one woman, although women are 51 percent of the U.S. population. It greatly concerns me that some of the members on this committee don't understand how critical certain programs are to millions of middle- and low-income people, especially women of color and older women.

Women currently are paid 77 cents on average for every dollar earned by a man, while African-American women are paid just 68 cents and Latinas only 59 cents. This wage gap means that many women have little to no savings or investments to rely on in their retirement years or to fall back on during a health crisis or economic setback.

Most worrisome is that fully half of the members of the super committee are already on record voting for drastic budget cuts that include converting Medicare to a private voucher system, block-granting Medicaid and fast-tracking proposals to cut Social Security benefits in the future. Instead of cutting these critical programs, our leaders should be creating jobs. According to the National Women's Law Center, women have lost nearly 281,000 jobs since the recovery started in June 2009. Even more devastating, the unemployment rates for women of color and single mothers are higher than the unemployment rate for men overall.

We need elected leaders who are more interested in funding health care, family planning, education and child care than waging endless wars. We also need leaders who aren't afraid to push for tax increases that will require the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share.

Not only are we fighting against these economic attacks, but we also face ongoing attacks on our reproductive freedom. More than 1,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced this year alone, and 162 bills have been passed at the state level to restrict access to abortion and/or family planning.

Women consistently outnumber men at the polls. At the National Organization for Women, we will spend the next 15 months continuing our grassroot efforts to educate these women to vote for candidates who will prioritize women's rights at the state and federal levels.

This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

13 comments » Register or log in to leave a comment. [Log in] [Register...]

Comment from: ephraim [Member] Email
Just tell the ladies to vote only for ladies! This is what I am doing "ladies-change- the- world movement"@ thequeensinourlives.blogspot.com.

A vote is one powerful right- muscle that the ladies are allowing to atrophy due to inactivity. They should remember that some ladies, like in Saudi Arabia, are not so privileged!
08/28/11 @ 07:25
Report Abuse

Comment from: cabaret voltaire [Visitor]
You mention black women and Latinas making 68 cents and 59 cents for every dollar man makes but seem to ignore the fact white women are paid more than minority women. You only compare their incomes in relation to a mans. Would you agree minority women have a right to earn the same income as a white woman?
09/05/11 @ 10:28
Report Abuse

Comment from: tonivp [Member] Email
Of course, we think all folks women and men should have equal pay for equal work. How about you?

09/05/11 @ 10:30
Report Abuse

Comment from: cabaret voltaire [Visitor]
Of coarse everyone should be paid equally. I do however have a problem with the federal government dictating earnings. The Equal Pay Act would essentially do that. How much government do we really want in our lives?
09/05/11 @ 15:19
Report Abuse

Comment from: cabaret voltaire [Visitor]
@ ephraim -- Only vote for women? That seems a bit extreme. Doesn't that seem a bit arrogant to tell women who to vote for? The women I know would laugh in your face if you told them how to vote. The 19th amendment was not about controlling the female vote.
09/05/11 @ 15:25
Report Abuse

Comment from: tonivp [Member] Email
It is a facclacy to say the Equal Pay Act dictates earnings. Please read the act before spreading this mistake.
09/05/11 @ 16:42
Report Abuse

Comment from: cabaret voltaire [Visitor]
The language of the proposed act doesn't specifically state government control but that could be the result because companies will fear expensive litigation even if the man is more qualified. Companies will avoid ligation just by increasing the woman's salary. Therefore, the government has a certain level of control over how private companies pay their employees. These laws have nothing to do with equal opportunities, just equal outcomes Corporations are becoming increasingly handcuffed because of so many feminist inspired laws and entitlements. At some point, they'll have to wonder where its really worthwhile to hire a woman. That's unfair but women really can't do much about it because groups like NOW control much of their lives. You see, I don't think women are weak and incapable of competing with men. I wouldn't insult them by suggesting they need a chivalrous government to protect them. Chivalry? Like it or not, most politicians are men and they are the ones 'protecting' you from patriarchy. Do you think you'd get that type of support from Sarah Plain or Michele Bachmann? Even republican men have to appease liberal feminists out of fear of being labeled sexists. Republican women don't have to worry about that.
09/05/11 @ 17:41
Report Abuse

Comment from: Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director [Member] Email
@cabaret voltaire: "Corporations are becoming increasingly handcuffed because of so many feminist inspired laws and entitlements" -- seriously? Treating employees fairly and creating a work environment that encourages and rewards productivity -- that's what's holding back corporations? Not sky-high CEO salaries and practices/frameworks created in another era?

And ..."groups like NOW control much of their lives" -- again, seriously? The world you live in is a curious land. I wish you could see all the letters we get and hear the calls we receive from women who are desperate for help. I'd like to see you tell them that things would be better for them if only NOW weren't so all-powerful.

Finally, try as you may to twist things, feminists do not "think women are weak and incapable of competing with men." We simply want a fair and just playing field. Saying out loud that the system is rigged and demanding that it be fixed is an indictment of the status quo and those that defend it. That you deflect vigorously when called upon to assume responsibility is not surprising at all.
09/06/11 @ 12:45
Report Abuse

Comment from: tonivp [Member] Email
cabaret voltaire your remarks are very misleading to be polite. Women are fully capable of competing with men, that is not what the bill is about at all. It is about being paid fairly and not being discriminated against. It is laughable to think that big business is worried about government, I wish if were so. As to protection from the patriarchy, no one is 'protecting' women; the country and its institution are rife with male privilege.

09/07/11 @ 16:00
Report Abuse

Comment from: mom3 [Visitor]
I used to work as a printer, I had a lady who was my inspector whose job was to keep an eye on th product to make sure it was correct and when I was finished her job was to help set up her end of the machine while I set it up for the next print. Everty time I was finished she would run to the bathroom and stay 15 or twenty minutes at a time. Having a schedule I would do my job and hers to until I finally got tired of it. Having equal pay for equal work is fine. But their are times when lazy people dont do equal work with their counterparts. Thats why I dont like unions, they make it difficult to get rid of the lazies.
09/13/11 @ 12:19
Report Abuse

Comment from: mssassyfrass [Member] Email
In the Womb, the Law Tolls
The conservatives led by Governor Brownback, like to say that they want less government in their lives, even though it is OK to do so in the lives of women? The issue at hand is Planned Parenthood and the Kansas Governor’s definition of PERSONHOOD.
Approximately 2% percent of PP is related to abortion with 98% dealing with sexual education in contraception, along with mom and child health issues. Let us now look at some of the questions regarding pregnancy and a defined childs life.
Governor Brownback and the conservative right define PERSONHOOD as beginning at conception (the intent, of course, being to criminalize abortion). Herein lie questions and what would ultimately occur if PERSONHOOD is actually defined at conception, rather than birth.
1. The government must determine that conception has taken place and when: monitoring every sexual encounter?, or women’s menstrual periods? But then, perhaps missed periods are due to some other non-self induced physical problems. Perhaps we’ll need to see the doctor monthly (Increasing healthcare costs!)?

2. Will women be prosecuted for behavior that puts the fetus at risk? (i.e. smoking, drinking - driving, flying - extreme sports, or perhaps having too aggressive sex.

3. Will random pregnancy tests be "OK" like random drug tests or breathalyzer tests are?
For example, if a woman is in a single car accident, can she be given a pregnancy test and then prosecuted for putting her fetus at risk? Or if she works at a job where she's exposed to hazardous material, can the employer require random pregnancy tests, and if the woman is pregnant, require she resign her position so as not to put the fetus at risk?

The REAL QUESTION is whose rights trump whose? Will the rights of the fetus override the rights of the woman, thus reducing the woman to a child-bearing vessel?

4. Will the health care law, require EVERYONE (which by discussed personhood definition) require health insurance apply to the fetus? Will women be required to submit to periodic pregnancy tests to ensure that this occurs in a timely fashion?

5. Life insurance should then be available to the fetus. Since it’s estimated that 1/4-1/3 of all conceptions fail naturally, the government need to bail out the life insurance companies as additional payouts that they will incur by life insurance for all fetuses.

6. Is a blighted ovum still a person?

Abortion clinic facility regulations

1. Why do these requirements only apply to abortion clinics? Why not to all medical/surgical facilities? If they are about patient safety then regulations should be consistent with all medical/surgical facilities.

2. How does the square footage of procedure rooms, recovery space, and in particular janitorial storage space impact patient safety?

3. Why would the requirements for the area for cleaning and sterilizing instruments be different for an abortion clinic than for any other surgical facility? It's easy to see how instrument sterilization relates to patient safety - but why would the requirements be different for different types of facilities?

4. Why is there a requirement that ROOMS be kept at a certain temperature? This should be determined by the needs of the patient and/or doctor?

5. Why is there a minimum length of stay requirement - for abortion clinics only? Isn't length of stay a medical decision - best determined by the physician? If this is to be dictated for abortion procedures, shouldn't it be dictated for ALL surgical procedures?

Bottom line though - even if all the requirements are necessary, then all facilities and surgical facilities be consistent?

L Neville
Overland Park, Ks.
10/26/11 @ 21:32
Report Abuse

Comment from: jeankammerer [Member] Email
Ok. Not sure if this is the best place to voice my opinion. But today I mailed my check to re-join NOW after a decades long hiatus. My motivation is that I am terrified about the accelerated erosion of reproductive rights.

One concern I have is that over the years, we have allowed the so-called "religious" right to change the conversation from self-determination, privacy, and choice to abortion and killing babies. We need the change it back.

What does everyone think about this? Do you agree? How do we do it?
02/29/12 @ 15:17
Report Abuse

Comment from: linwit [Member] Email

02/29/12 @ 20:38
Report Abuse

Comments are not allowed from anonymous visitors.