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House and Senate Pass Budgets Slashing Programs for Struggling Families, Advance Tax Cuts for Multimillionaires

Bad news on the federal budget front continues this week: on Wednesday, a Republican majority in the House passed a budget plan that slashes trillions of dollars from programs for low-income families but shields tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. And in the wee hours this morning, the Senate wrapped up its budget debate and passed a similarly disastrous proposal along party lines. Though the House and Senate budget resolutions are blueprints—legislation making the changes they call for would still have to be enacted—they are an important statement of congressional priorities, and in the words of Senator Sanders (D-VT), the Republican budgets “say those people who are struggling, those people who are trying to feed their families, those people who are trying to send their kids to college, those are not the people that we should be helping. Rather, we’ve got to worry about the top 1 percent.”

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The Department of Labor’s New Rule: Changing the Definition of Spouse under the FMLA to Finally Include All Spouses

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: March 27, 2015 at 11:38 am

Until this month, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has entitled almost all eligible spouses to take job-protected, unpaid leave to care for family members, including a sick spouse or stepchild.  But it has not covered spouses who are married to same-sex partners. That means that even though you might be legally married to your spouse, you could still be denied the rights that opposite-sex spouses have to job-protected FMLA leave to care for your sick spouse – simply because of who you are, who you love, and who you married.

But now, thanks to the Department of Labor, same-sex spouses will have the same leave rights under the FMLA as spouses in heterosexual marriages. This month, the Department of Labor issued a new rule that becomes final today, defining “spouse” under the FMLA as being determined by where the celebration of marriage occurred, rather than the employee’s current state of residence.  In other words, under the “place of celebration” rule, an employee in a same-sex marriage will be deemed a spouse under the FMLA if her marriage took place in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, even if she currently lives and works in a state that does not.

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Wisconsin Admitting Privileges Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Posted by Courtney Ross, Intern | Posted on: March 26, 2015 at 10:37 am

Last Friday, a federal judge issued a decision that protects women’s access to abortion, finding unconstitutional a Wisconsin law that would have shut down an abortion provider and seriously hindered access for thousands of women. The state law required all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of the health center where the abortion was performed. These types of laws are medically unnecessary which is why major medical groups like American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association oppose these restrictions.

The law would have forced one clinic to shut its doors for good and the other three to absorb the patient load. With patients at these clinics already facing unusually long wait times (3-4 weeks) because of a lack of abortion providing physicians, it is unlikely the remaining three would have been able to serve all patients in need.

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Unconstitutional Ohio Bill Would Place Politics Above Women’s Health by Banning Abortions as Early as Six Weeks

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 25, 2015 at 03:15 pm

Once again, state politicians are seeking to insert themselves into women’s medical decisions and violate their constitutionally protected right to abortion. Ohio’s House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on H.B. 69, a bill that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. This could be as early as six weeks, before many, if not most, women even know they are pregnant. Abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected would only be allowed in the most narrow and dire of circumstances. This is blatantly unconstitutional. Even supporters of the bill acknowledge that it violates the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade holding that abortions cannot be prohibited before viability. Similar abortion bans failed in the past two legislative sessions, in part, because anti-abortion legislators recognized that the bills were unconstitutional and would subject the state to years of litigation.  

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Supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act Means Closing the Wage Gap for Working Women

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: March 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

The wage gap for working women in the United States has been stagnant over the last decade – women working fulltime, year round are paid just 78 cents for every dollar paid to men.   Not incidentally, congressional action on the Paycheck Fairness Act has also been stagnant over the last decade.  Congress has blocked action on the Paycheck Fairness Act four times, including twice in the Senate as recently as last September.  But now, Congress has another chance to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and achieve economic security and equality for women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, reintroduced today by Senator Mikulski and Representative DeLauro, achieves several important goals for working women by strengthening the tools that workers have to fight back against pay discrimination.  Specifically, the Act:

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Teeing Up a Massive Tax Break for Multimillionaires

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: March 25, 2015 at 12:02 pm

It’s shameful and shameless.

Today, the House is expected to vote on a disastrous budget that would cut $5.5 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years, targeting programs that help millions of women put food on the table, afford child care and higher education, and access health care for themselves and their families. More than two-thirds of the cuts in the House budget are to programs for low- and moderate-income people, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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Method to the Madness: Our March Madness Final Four Contenders

Posted by Katie Hegarty, Online Outreach Assistant | Posted on: March 24, 2015 at 11:18 am

In honor of March Madness, NWLC has been locked in a battle of televisual proportions, looking for your favorite female TV character of the last 50 years. Hundreds of voters have narrowed the field from the original Sweet Sixteen bracket to the current Final Four. And now, with the added wild card of the write-in category, deciding how to vote is tougher than ever.

Our staff have got their heads squarely in the game, and have made serious cases for their sheroes. Below are their arguments in favor of each of their favorite characters. Can Brandie convince you to champion Olivia Benson? Is Erin’s write-in campaign for Dana Scully supernatural enough?

Check out their posts here, then vote your heart out!  

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Murphy Brown: Stepping Out of Our TV Sets and Into Reality

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: March 24, 2015 at 11:14 am

While all four of the finalists in the Women’s History Month March Madness Bracket are deserving of the win, Murphy Brown did something that none of the others have ever done… for several months in 1992 she stepped out of our TV sets and into reality. And for that reason, she may be the most important woman fictional character ever on TV.

For those of you who don’t remember, when Murphy Brown debuted in 1988, the eponymous main character of the show (played by Candice Bergen) was someone we’d never seen before on our TV sets. A successful television news anchor, in some ways she was just the next evolution in the line of characters started by Diahann Carroll and Mary Tyler Moore — women who weren’t defined by their relationships with a man but by their careers. But where Julia was a maternal nurse working for a kind male doctor, and Mary was a spunky TV producer working for a gruff male news chief, Murphy was neither maternal nor spunky and she didn’t work for anyone. She was the boss — in reality if not in name.

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