Women’s Equality Day? Not So Fast

Ms. magazine and HerVote have laid waste to the notion that women’s basic rights are (more or less) safe and secure. Read my summary, below, or the whole depressing thing at http://msmagazine.com/HERvotes/index.htm
What can you do, right now? Join NOW (go to the box at right to do that).
From Ms. magazine
Top Ten Historic Advances for Women Now at Risk

1. Women’s Right to Vote (1920)The 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, guaranteed American women the right to vote, although many women of color did not win full voting rights until 45 years later under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Threat: Conservative legislatures in 30 states are attempting to turn the clock back to the 19th century when only privileged white males were allowed to vote. Newly imposed ID requirements target students, people of color and women.
2. Social Security Act (1935)Social Security is the bedrock of older women’s financial security – virtually the only source of income for 3 in 10 women 65 and older – and a critical source of disability and life insurance protection throughout their lives.
Threat:Bills in Congress would gut the current Social Security program and disproportionately impact women’s economic security.
3. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Together, these laws prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, including pregnancy, and national origin. Both have been central to expanding women’s economic opportunities and helping women achieve economic and retirement security.
Threat:Recent Supreme Court rulings have weakened employment discrimination laws, placing women’s rights in the workplace in jeopardy, and actions by conservative Senators have undermined efforts to restore these laws and strengthen employment protections for women.
4. Medicare (1965)
Medicare is the nation’s health insurance program for seniors and younger adults with permanent disabilities. More than half (56%) of all Medicare beneficiaries are women.
Threat:The conservative majority of the House of Representative passed a fiscal year 2012 budget bill that will effectively end Medicare and replace it for those now under 55 with a voucher to buy private insurance. It would increase out-of-pocket health care costs, limit benefits and severely restrict the choice of doctors.
5. Medicaid (1965)Medicaid provides 19 million women access to vital health services at all stages of their lives.
Threat: Under the conservative House budget, Medicaid was targeted for deep budget cuts and converted into capped block grants to states. Medicaid still faces threats from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
6. Title X, The National Family Planning Program (1970) Title X is the only dedicated source of federal funding for family planning services in the United States and provides preventive health care to more than 5 million low-income and uninsured women.
Threat: For the first time in history, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to completely defund Title X in 2011.
7. Title IX of the Education Amendments (1972) Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities. Title IX greatly expanded equal access to college education, professional and graduate schools and dramatically increased equal access to sports opportunities so that today girls and women represent over 40% of all college and high school athletes. Title IX also plays a vital role in increasing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education by improving the climate for women in those fields.
Threat: A combination of administrative budget cuts, regulations, private school vouchers schemes, and pressure from congressional opponents threatens to weaken enforcement of Title IX.
8. Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision (1973)
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that a right to privacy under the 14th Amendment extended to a women’s decision to have an abortion.
Threat:Anti-abortion Members of Congress have introduced legislation that would make all abortions illegal and essentially overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2011, over 1,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced and 162 bills have been passed at the state level to restrict access to abortion and/or family planning.
9. The Violence Against Women Act (1994)The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created the first U.S. federal legislation acknowledging the severity of crimes related to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and violence against women.
Threat: VAWA will expire at the end of 2011 unless it is reauthorized. The law needs to be updated and strengthened, including the addition of provisions that will help protect students on campus who are consistently subject to sexual harassment, assault and violence. Despite this, no action has yet been taken to ensure VAWA is reauthorized.
10. The Affordable Care Act (2010)The Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers maternity care, eliminates pre-existing conditions and prevents health plans from charging women more than men for the same coverage. ACA also covers well-woman preventive health services, such as an annual well-woman visit, contraceptives, mammograms, cancer screenings, prenatal care and counseling for domestic violence, without co-pays, and includes the first federal ban on sex discrimination in health care programs and activities. Combined with other provisions, the ACA is an historic step forward for women’s health and economic security.
Threat:The House of Representatives voted to repeal the ACA. Conservative senators, state legislators and governors have also pledged to repeal ACA and deny women of all ages critical preventive care services.

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