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The Women's Health Protection Act: Protecting Women's Right to Choose

Posted by Ashley Bender, Intern | Posted on: July 21, 2014 at 03:20 pm

What do mandatory delays, biased counseling requirements, stringent physical building standards, and restrictions on the use of telemedicine all have in common?

They are all examples of the kinds of medically unnecessary laws passed by state politicians that target abortion clinics, providers, and patients with the goal of eliminating access to abortion. Between 2011 and 2013, states have enacted over 200 restrictions on abortion, and they just keep coming. These restrictions mean that women and providers have to fight in court just to keep abortion clinics open. These restrictions mean that the entire Rio Grande Valley is without a single provider. That’s over 1 million people without access. These restrictions mean that a woman’s constitutional right depends on her zip code.

But women and members of Congress are fighting back. The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin, would undo many of the dizzying number of restrictions passed in recent years. This bill would nullify laws that purport to protect women’s health but, in reality and intent, restrict women’s access to the reproductive health care they need and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

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The Completely Outrageous Wage Gap for African American Women

Posted by Michaela Olson, Intern | Posted on: July 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm

We’re marking an important landmark in the fight for equal pay for all women, but not in a good way. Get ready to get angry.

1. Even today, women overall typically make only 77 cents for every dollar men make, working full time year round.  

2. But that’s just the beginning: shamefully, the wage gap is even larger for women of color. 

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201 Days Till Equal Pay: The Wage Gap for African American Women

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: July 21, 2014 at 11:54 am

This year the nation marked Equal Pay Day (the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year) on April 8th. I was lucky enough to be able to “celebrate” by standing with President Obama at the White House as he signed two critical executive actions to address the problem of unequal pay in the federal contractor workforce.

Yes, that’s right — women overall have to work three months into the new year before their wages catch up to men’s. Even worse, when you look at the data by race and gender together it is clear that it takes even longer for women of color to catch up. That’s because the wage gaps experienced by women of color are substantially larger than for women overall. Women overall typically make only 77 percent of what men make for full time, year round work — but, for example, for African American women and Hispanic women compared to white, non-Hispanic men this figure is 64 cents and 54 cents, respectively.

Which brings us to late July — the time when we will finally reach Equal Pay Day for African American women.

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Voters Agree: Congress Should Address Early Learning

Posted by Holly Flynn, Intern | Posted on: July 18, 2014 at 04:04 pm

It’s so rare that Americans reach a broad consensus on any issue, that when there is one policy supported by a vast majority of voters, you can be sure it is an incredibly urgent matter. According to a new poll by the First Five Years Fund, early learning is this kind of issue. Eighty-five percent of respondents said that giving children a strong start is extremely or very important—making it the number-two policy priority, just behind increasing jobs and economic growth. Americans have made it clear—they want action on early learning, and they want it soon. In fact, three out of four voters want Congress to address a plan for universal high-quality preschool within the next two years.

What’s more, increased early learning investments have the backing of a strong majority of Americans across the political spectrum. The poll presented a specific policy proposal that would provide $10 billion a year over ten years to provide all children in low- and moderate-income families with access to high-quality preschool programs. The proposal was supported by 60 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of independents, and 84 percent of Democrats. In addition, the proposal received support from 80 percent of Hispanics, 75 percent of moderates, and 72 percent of suburban women.

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Delaware Updates Homebound Instruction Regulations to Comply with Title IX

Posted by Samantha Hall, Intern | Posted on: July 18, 2014 at 10:52 am

On July 1, 2014, Delaware released a proposed update to its regulations regarding homebound instruction, and although it looks like a small change, it’s an important one, folks. Until now, Delaware’s regulations surrounding homebound instruction barred students with “normal” pregnancies from accessing homebound instruction services. Students with pregnancy complications (or, I suppose, “non-normal” pregnancies, though in my mind I still can’t figure out what “normal" means) were only able to access homebound instruction for six weeks, even though such a limit didn’t apply to any other students using homebound instruction.

Happily, once Delaware understood that their regulations violated Title IX and made it harder for pregnant students to continue their schoolwork, they worked quickly to change their regulations. The National Women’s Law Center brought the problem to the attention of the Delaware Department of Education and advocated that the policy be fixed; the proposed changes are necessary for Delaware to comply with Title IX.

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Poised to Affirm Fairness in All Four States, the Sixth Circuit Takes Up Marriage Equality

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: July 17, 2014 at 09:45 am

Protection of basic individual rights has had a tough time as of late in the courts. Marriage equality, however, is a happy exception, sweeping through the courts with extraordinary unanimity. The Supreme Court started the trend last June in United States v. Windsor. In Windsor, the Court overturned as unconstitutional Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples. Since then, every federal court to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans has found the state laws unconstitutional. Next up are the rights of same-sex couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee—the four states over which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction—with five district court cases under review by that court.

In Tennessee, married same-sex couples are looking to have their validly-performed, out-of-state marriages recognized in their home state. In Ohio, one case is seeking to have valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples recognized for the purposes of death certificates, and the other case is seeking the same recognition rights for birth certificates. In Michigan and Kentucky, same-sex couples are seeking the right to marry in their states. In all cases, the district courts found the challenged marriage bans and marriage recognition bans unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Title IX Stands With Jada, Too

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: July 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

“There’s no point in hiding. Everybody has already seen my face and my body, but that’s not what I am and who I am.”

These are the words of courageous 16-year-old Jada. Jada was drugged and raped at a party of a fellow high school student. She had no recollection of the event, but became aware of it when friends began texting her to ask if she was okay. She then realized that photos and videos of her assault were going viral on social media. As if that wasn’t horrible enough, people started mocking her assault by posting photos, tweets, and videos imitating Jada while she was unconscious, using the hashtag #jadapose.

 With incredible bravery, Jada is speaking out and saying she will not hide and that she is angry about what has happened to her. And Jada’s not the only one. Thousands are taking to social media to express their outrage, show support for Jada, and challenge the all-too-common rape culture. With the hashtag #jadacounterpose, people are saying they stand with Jada.

Jada, Title IX stands with you, too.

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Pushed Out of Work Because of Pregnancy? Not On Our Watch, Says EEOC

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: July 15, 2014 at 11:46 am

A lot has changed for pregnant women in the workforce since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed over 35 years ago. More women are working during pregnancy, and into later stages of pregnancy. And formal policies that purport to prohibit pregnant women from working outright have largely disappeared.

But unfortunately that doesn’t mean that we have seen the end of unfair treatment of pregnant workers. Workers continue to be forced out of their jobs because of pregnancy. In particular, they are often denied temporary job adjustments for which they have a medical need during pregnancy – even when their employers will honor the needs of employees who have non-pregnancy-related disabilities or injuries. As a result, pregnant workers are too often forced into an untenable choice between risking their health and their pregnancy or losing their income at precisely the moment their families can least afford it.

Yesterday the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sent a strong message to employers that treat pregnant workers like second-class citizens in this way: you are breaking the law.

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