Women are fighting a new revolution in today’s political arena. With a massive field of political debate ramping up in this election year, feminists are making their voices heard loud and clear. Recently, President Barack Obama spoke at Valencia College in Orlando, FL. Obama is spearheading the cause of equal pay by arguing that women are quickly becoming the heads of households and are vital to the overall well-being of the economy. A new revolution to balance pay, health needs, and protections from violence are issues for women that will lead female politicians into the 2016 election cycle.
The last revolution was sparked in the 1970s when an assault on women’s health was debated in the Supreme Court with Roe Vs. Wade. For the last 25 years, society has accepted the ruling as a victory and have been satisfied, but over the last year, there have been an insurgence of assaults on those rights that have sparked the flames of women’s liberation all over again.
The fears of returning to a time when a woman was treated as a second-class citizen have made household names for females in politics across the board. With Wendy Davis, State Senator and 2014 Gubernatorial Candidate in Texas, fighting for reproductive rights; Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) fighting for protections against predators, and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) standing strong on education and pay equality, the new revolution has put women in the spotlight for elections nationwide.
For decades, households have been dependent on dual incomes to survive the rising costs of living. Wages have not kept pace with national averages, leaving a balance of a woman’s pay being just $.70 cents to every dollar of their male counterparts. The rise in household costs have created a need for women to leave the workforce due to these expenses, such as childcare, compared to salary benefits available.
States across the nation have passed legislation that are limiting rights on abortion, contraception, and pay equality in a war like fashion. With conservative control of gerrymandered districts nationwide, the risks of holding back these laws are becoming increasingly difficult to fight. The architect of gerrymandering, Tom Delay (Ret-R) of Texas, secured a future that no matter the balance of Republicans and Democrats in any given district, elections will result in a one-sided victory nationwide. This, in turn, secures a conservative majority in the legislature even if the electorate leans liberal. This single move has allowed laws from 50 years ago to creep back into existence. Examples of this can be seen in the limiting of voting rights, denying women basic health care, and causing a contentious debate on a woman’s value in the workplace, resulting in denying them equal pay.
States are not just resting on the newly passed legislation, but have pressed to limit the new laws even further. In Texas, Governor Rick Perry signed restrictive new legislation against women’s reproductive health. House Bill 2 bans abortion after 20 weeks, requires existing abortion clinics to meet the same standards as surgical facilities, and doctors who perform abortions must have hospital privileges within 30 miles of the clinic where the procedure takes place. Texas HB 2 has caused abortion clinics to close statewide. Just eight months after the legislation was signed into law, less than half of the existing clinics remain. That number is expected to shrink down to just six clinics statewide in September when the last portion of the law takes effect, limiting procedures to clinics that meet surgical center standards. In a state that spans over 250 thousand square miles and is the second most populated state in the United States, females are being forced to pre-1970 procedures when faced with unwanted pregnancies. Male elected officials have taken the approach that if a woman is seeking an abortion and puts her life at risk while receiving inadequate care, it is a direct result of a woman’s irresponsible behavior. The Texas State Legislature has convened committees to expand the law to make abortion illegal in as little as six weeks, however the average pregnancy is not discovered until the seventh week.
In a heavily red state, Wendy Davis has spearheaded the fight against such restrictive legislation and the once-unknown politician is now within 7 points in the latest polls against front-runner Greg Abbott, current Republican Attorney General of Texas. First term Senator Elizabeth Warren has fought so diligently for equal pay and equity towards women that she has quickly come up the ranks as the Senior Senator of Massachusetts.
Laws limiting rights that involve reproductive health issues do not extend to men as insurance covers a variety of reproductive care for men from erectile dysfunction to penile implants. Procedures that are far more invasive and considerably more expensive are fully covered through most insurance plans, and include coverage in heavily religious work places such as Catholic Charities of America. In most states, fertility treatment for a woman is not covered, yet a vasectomy and vasectomy reversals are fully covered for men.
The balance of laws effecting men compared to laws effecting females are instep with rising health care costs and driving females out of the workforce, pushing society back 50 years. Women refuse to return to the kitchens; today is a new revolution across the nation who demand more than just rights in the home, but rights to lead in society.
Opinion By Kimberly Beller