Today, women make up a small minority of elected government officials, both locally and nationally. Thus, when it comes to lawmakers making decisions regarding women’s issues, including equal pay and reproductive rights, it is ultimately men who are making the decisions.
The 2016 presidential election is more crucial than ever, and although there are very pressing issues that demand attention, women’s issues need to be discussed and treated with just as much importance. Here is where the remaining leading candidates stand regarding women’s issues.
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State (2009-2013), New York Senator (2001-2009), First Lady of the United States (1993-2001)
Clinton faced sexism throughout her life, before and when she was the First Lady, a Senator and in her role as Secretary of State. She used her public platform to call attention to the gender pay gap, introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2005 and 2007 and cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, signed into law in 2009 by President Obama. Clinton has made it clear that she is pro-choice, supporting abortion at any stage of pregnancy and wants to continue federal funding for Planned Parenthood, who endorsed her for president. In January at a political rally in the state of New Hampshire, Clinton called reproductive rights a fundamental human right and she said she would repeal the Hyde Amendment — a law that passed in 1976 that prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger.
Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator (2007-present), Vermont Congressman (1991-2007), mayor of Burlington, Vermont (1981-1989)
Sanders, who considers himself a democratic socialist, is a strong pro-choice advocate, believing that a woman should be able to make the decision on her own regarding abortion. He supports the expansion of funding Planned Parenthood and the importance of stopping efforts to try and defund the organization altogether.
“Stripping funding for Planned Parenthood would punish the 2.7 million Americans, especially low-income women, who rely on its clinics for affordable, quality health care services including cancer prevention, STI and HIV testing and general primary health care services,” Sanders said.
Sanders believes that women have the right to control their own body, and that the decision should not lie with government officials, but rather the woman, her family and the physician. He also supports equal pay for women and men and voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Ted Cruz, Texas Senator (2013-present), Solicitor General of Texas (2003-2008)
Ted Cruz is a pro-life advocate and strongly opposes abortion for women impregnated of rape or incest. Although he does support abortion when the mother’s life is in danger, he believes that a woman does not have the right abort her child in any other case.
“I think that every human life is a precious gift from God and should be protected in law from conception until natural death,” Cruz said.
He believes that Plan B, a type of emergency contraception and birth control, can be classified as abortion-inducing drugs. Cruz agrees that women face more hurdles than men in the workplace, and did not cast a vote to block the Paycheck Fairness Act in April of 2014, a bill that would ban employers from telling employees not to talk about pay and narrow what counts as business justifications for gender pay gaps. He did vote against the bill later that year when Republican senators unanimously blocked it.
Donald Trump, Chairman and President of The Trump Organization, and television show host of The Apprentice (2004-2015)
Trump has greatly altered his views on abortion over the past decade. In 1999, he considered himself pro-choice, where today, as a GOP front-runner, he is a strong opponent of abortion, except in the case of rape, incest or if the health of the mother is at stake. Trump once called Planned Parenthood an abortion factory, but recently, he acknowledged that the organization has done good work for women.
“I’m sure they [Planned Parenthood] do some things properly and good and that are good for women, and I would look at that, and I would look at other aspects also. But we have to take care of women,” Trump said at a Republican presidential debate.
When it comes to women’s appearance, Trump has made numerous offensive and sexist remarks, insulting female news anchors, columnists and a variety of other professional women.
Marco Rubio, Florida Senator (2011-present), State Representative of Florida (2000-2008)
Rubio, a well-known Roman Catholic and a strong pro-life proponent, never made it clear whether he supports abortion in the case of exceptions such as rape, incest, or the health of the mother. He believes that one’s constitutional right to life begins before they are born.
“I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws, whether they can vote or not. Whether they can speak or not. Whether they can hire a lawyer or not. Whether they have a birth certificate or not. And I think future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live,” Rubio said.
Rubio voted against The Fair Pay Act twice and believes that all that it would do would result in more lawyers collecting fees and filing lawsuits.
On November 8, millions of Americans will cast their vote for the next president. The most important thing we can do as women is vote for the candidate that we believe will be a champion for change, equality and inclusion. Learn as much about the candidates as possible, and then go out and exercise your voting rights that women fought so tirelessly for.
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