|Women's Rights Update|
Below is a women's rights update on the Violence Against Women Act, contraception mandate, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and pay equity. Visit the Hadassah National Action Center to contact your elected officials on these important issues. Hadassah's members, associates and supporters are also encouraged to share this information with friends and family. Hadassah's Facebook and Twitter pages have posts on these issues that can be promoted to your social networks.
Violence Against Women Act
On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in a bipartisan vote (78-22).
Last term, different versions of the Violence Against Women Act passed the Senate and House of Representatives and no agreement could be reached to reconcile the legislation. The House version of VAWA would have turned back the tides on years of progress, diverting funds away from essential services and depriving countless victims of necessary protections.
The Senate vote showed that protecting victims of violence is not a partisan issue! Contact your Senators about their vote and urge your Representatives to co-sponsor and support an inclusive VAWA.
On February 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new information and modifications to the contraception mandate. Hadassah supports every woman—no matter where she works or attends school—having the right to make family planning decisions privately, in consultation with medical advice, and in accordance with her own religious, moral and ethical values.
In 2011, HHS announced a proposal requiring most insurance policies to include free contraception coverage (no co-pays), as per preventive health recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.
Congressional and religious leaders voiced opposition to the mandate, specifically for religious non-profits that are opposed to funding contraception. (Houses of worship are already exempt from the mandate.) Last February, the White House announced an accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, proposing that an insurer or other third party would provide contraception coverage directly to employees at no cost to the employer.
This month's announcement, which clarified the mechanism of insurer/third party coverage, is one step further to ensuring wide-spread access to contraception coverage. Unfortunately, the new requirements also loosened the requirements for exempt organizations, lifting the mandate for some non-profit agencies directly operated by religious institutions.
Hadassah appreciates that the administration continues to recognize the medical need for contraceptive coverage, but remains concerned that not all women are afforded this access. Hadassah will continue to advocate for expanded access, as well as an implementation process that does not create undue barriers.
The Department of Health & Human Services will be taking public comments until April 8th. Hadassah and its coalition partners are continuing to follow these developments and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will be reintroduced to Congress in the coming weeks. PWFA—like the Americans with Disabilities Act—would help pregnant workers maintain economic stability and a healthy pregnancy by requiring that employers provide reasonable work accommodations.
Urge your legislators to become an original co-sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and work for its swift passage!
During the State of the Union, President Obama urged Congress to finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Hadassah, a longtime member of the National Committee on Pay Equity, strongly supports the adoption and strict enforcement of policies to eliminate employment discrimination, reduce the gender wage gap and ensure better economic security for women.
Contact your legislators in support of pay equity legislation.
Contact President Obama in support of an executive order barring retaliatory pay secrecy policies for federal contractors.