Special Mother’s Day Report from the War on Women: VAWA

What do the 31 Republican Senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Act all have in common?

This is Chapter Three of a three-part series on the War on Women.

Chapter 3: The Violence Against Women Act

On April 26, the United States Senate passed S. 1925, a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), by a vote of 68 to 31. S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), ensures a continued federal government response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking while making significant improvements to the law. To celebrate the passage of this critical legislation, Jewish Women International (JWI) Executive Director Lori Weinstein released the following statement:

The Violence Against Women Act is a historic law that has benefited millions of women across the country. Today, the Senate passed a strong, bipartisan reauthorization bill and sent a strong message to victims of violence throughout the country: You are not forgotten. This bill not only continues VAWA’s successful programs and services for another five years but also improves access to services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and immigrant victims, and gives American Indian women equal access to justice.

For the last two years, JWI has worked closely with our colleagues on the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women and our allies on Capitol Hill to pass a reauthorization bill that strengthens and improves VAWA. After today’s victory, we turn our attention to the House of Representatives and call on them to renew and strengthen this lifesaving legislation in a bipartisan manner.

Barbara Weinstein, Legislative Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Since its enactment in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has been an invaluable tool for preventing, investigating, and prosecuting violent crimes targeting women. Studies have shown that incidents of domestic violence have decreased as more women report attacks and law enforcement has improved its investigation and prosecution of the crimes.

The bipartisan Senate vote reauthorizing VAWA will help continue this trend, providing better tools to train law enforcement and victim service providers, focus attention on addressing the high rate of violence in the tribal and LGBT communities, and redirect funds to the most effective programs.

Even as Maimonides reminded men of the imperative to treat women with honor and respect (Sefer Nashim 15:19), our Jewish sages recognized that violence comes in forms that are both physical and emotional.  The Violence Against Women Act helps prevent and respond to such tragedies when they occur and is worthy of reauthorization. We call on the House to follow the Senate’s lead and swiftly pass the Violence Against Women Act.

 

Special Mother’s Day Report from the War on Women: Introduction

Viral Music Video That Every Women (and Man) Should Watch

The video Bad Romance: Women’s Suffrage is Soomo Publishing’s moving music video parody of Lady Gaga. The video pays homage to Alice Paul and the generations of brave women who joined together in the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920. (See Lyrics)

This Sunday is Mother’s Day when we honor the women in our lives.

However, in politics, the place of women can not be taken for granted. Just as our matriarchs fought for Women’s suffrage a hundred years ago, we must continue to fight to ensure the women in our lives the same rights that men enjoy.

Today, the gender war is being fought at a fevered pitch. As I see it there is action on at least three fronts:

  • Women made gains on the front for pay equality.
  • Women held off an assault on the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Women are losing ground in many states on the reproductive rights front.

Indeed, women are at risk of losing the choice of whether or not to become mothers by banning common forms of birth control, fertility treatment like in-vitro fertilization, and all abortions (even in case of rape).

Over the days leading up to Mother’s Day, we will publish a series of report showing the progress women are achieving and the setbacks women are contending with on each front.

Jewish Organizations Push To Protect Women

— by Max Samis

As Congress debates the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — which has been passed and reauthorized with bipartisan support several times since it’s inception in 1994 — prominent Democrats marked April 17 as “Equal Pay Day,” recognizing the importance of continuing to fight for gender equality in the workplace. Several leading Democrats issued statements and penned op-eds in order to raise awareness of the issue, as well as the larger fight for women’s rights.

Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said:

President Obama and Democrats understand that equal pay is so important for women and their families that one of the first pieces of legislation Democrats passed in 2009 and the first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act ensures that women can fight for equal pay for equal work, and on National Equal Pay Day we celebrate our continued fight for economic equality, regardless of gender.

The President’s commitment to women is in stark contrast to Mitt Romney and the GOP’s attitude toward equal pay for women. While Democrats and the President were making equal pay for equal work a priority, nearly every Republican in the House and Senate voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who Mitt Romney has called a ‘hero,’ recently repealed that state’s fair pay law; and Mitt Romney refuses to say if he would have signed Lilly Ledbetter had he been president at the time. His campaign on a conference call last week couldn’t even articulate a response when asked his position on the law….

On Equal Pay Day women can rest assured that Democrats and President Obama will continue the fight for equal pay for equal work and will fight for their right to make health care choices for themselves and their families. It’s a shame that Mitt Romney and Republicans can’t say the same thing.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — the first female speaker in American history — also said:

I’m proud of the accomplishments of the Democratic-led Congress on behalf of equal pay and fairness. The Lilly Ledbetter Act-the first bill President Obama signed into law-restored the right of women and other workers to challenge unfair pay in court. Further, under the Affordable Care Act, soon women will no longer be charged higher premiums than men for the same coverage and no longer will being a woman be treated as a pre-existing condition.  

On Equal Pay Day, we honor all of our nation’s women, who through their labor – at home and in the workplace – have made our country strong. And we recommit to opening the doors of opportunity for the next generation of women.

Graph of pay gap by profession, a map of pay gap by state, and op/eds by Senators Gillibrand and Boxer follow the jump.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wrote an op-ed in The Huffington Post, discussing the importance of pay equity not just to women, but to the national economy as a whole. Gillibrand wrote:

…[T]he issue of pay equity is not merely one of fairness. Equal pay for equal work is vital for our economic growth and middle class financial security. With more and more women contributing to household incomes, the lack of equal pay for women hurts all middle class working families-men and children included. In New York alone, women head more than 1,000,000 households. It’s estimated that because of the wage gap, New York families are deprived of $8600 a year. Nationwide, it’s been estimated that if women were paid a dollar on the dollar for equal work, the U.S. GDP could grow up to 9 percent.

Gillibrand also discussed pay equity in regards to women’s health. She wrote:

In addition to being an economic security issue, the failure to pay women a salary that’s equal to men for equal work is also a women’s health issue. The fact is that the salary women are paid directly impacts the type of health care services they are able to access for both themselves and their families. For example, if we closed the wage gap, a working woman in New York would be able to afford more than 2 years worth of additional family health insurance premiums. At a time when women’s health services are increasingly vulnerable to budget cuts, it’s more important than ever that women have financial security to maintain access to basic care for them and their families.

In Politico, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wrote an op-ed asserting that contrary to what Republicans may have you believe, the “war on women” is very real:

Suppose it’s the championship basketball game and one player is committing foul after foul. Each time, he denies he’s committed any offense.

Eventually, he fouls out. But even as he heads to the bench, he’s protesting that he did nothing wrong.

That’s what we’re seeing today from Republicans who claim there is no ‘war on women.’ The Republican National Committee chairman likened it to a ‘war on caterpillars.’ The Senate Republican leader claims it’s all manufactured – even as female members of his caucus warn about the growing backlash against the GOP from women.

House Republicans have introduced more than 30 bills that would restrict a woman’s reproductive health care. Those same Republicans, who decry an all-too-powerful government, have no problem deciding what health care is right for our daughters, or sisters or mothers….

Here in Congress, 116 Republicans in the House and 19 Republicans in the Senate are co-sponsors of ‘personhood’ legislation, which would criminalize abortion with no exceptions for the mother’s life or health. … It could even bar doctors from providing life-saving care to women with dangerous ectopic pregnancies.

It doesn’t end there. Republicans in Congress blocked an international treaty – the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women – even though the only other nations refusing to ratify it are Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Palau and Tonga.

They also oppose increasing the minimum wage – when women make up about two-thirds of all workers now earning minimum wage or less. Not one Republican is a cosponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act, which helps protect women from domestic violence, when the bill was in the Senate Judiciary Committee. They voted to repeal the health care law – including the part that says no more gender discrimination in the pricing of health insurance policies and the part that offers free preventive services like mammograms, STD screening, well-woman visits and birth control.

The facts are the facts. The Republicans have launched a war on women. Despite all the denials, women get it – and so do the men who care about them.

In addition to the fight for pay equality, Democrats have pushed for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Led by Vice President Joe Biden – who originally wrote and sponsored the bill as a Senator from Delaware in 1994 – a group of lawmakers and private citizens spoke today about the importance of passing the bill with bipartisan support. Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown wrote:

‘The idea we’re still fighting about this in Congress, that this is even a debatable issue, is truly sad,’ Biden said during remarks at the Eisenhower Office Building. ‘It’s not a reflection on the law. It is a reflection on our inability in this town to deal with something that by now should just be over in terms of debate about it.’

‘No one should question whether this is needed,’ Biden said at the end of his remarks. ‘It would have been bad if the law had never been passed. But imagine now, the message it sends if it is not reauthorized. Just ask what message it would send to every one of our daughters, every woman imprisoned in their home.’

Several prominent Jewish organizations have also spoken out in favor of VAWA’s reauthorization. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, National Council of Jewish Women, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Hadassah have all urged their supporters to contact their local Congressional delegations and urge that they vote to pass the reauthorization of VAWA immediately. This is too important to wait.

  • Click here to read Senator Gillibrand’s entire op-ed.
  • Click here to read Senator Boxer’s entire op-ed.
  • Click here to read about how President Barack Obama’s actions have reflected Jewish values, including his accomplishments on women’s rights.

US Gender Pay Gap By State

With Friends Like These Romney Doesn’t Need Enemies

Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R-MD) appeared on CNN to support Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA). Piers Morgan asked him about recent polls which showed Romney losing support among women. Ehrlich suggested that the gender gap would close once women “see” Romney’s “real views” in the general election.

Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe:

“Nobody thinks Romney’s going to win. Let’s just be honest. Can we just say this for everybody at home? Let me just say this for everybody at home. The Republican establishment — I’ve yet to meet a single person in the Republican establishment that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election this year. They won’t say it on TV because they’ve got to go on TV and they don’t want people writing them nasty emails. I obviously don’t care. But I have yet to meet anybody in the Republican establishment that worked for George W. Bush, that works in the Republican congress, that worked for Ronald Reagan that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election.”

Dear GOP: Why do you hate me? An Open Letter

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

Dear GOP:

What have I ever done to you to make you hate me so much? 

I was born female and somehow you want to deny me, and all the other women and girls, things you consider sacrosanct for men. Oh wait, not all men, just those that are straight, white and Christian. But I digress. I look at the abominations of legislation you are trying to pass in state after state, and ask myself what would have become of me had you passed those things when I was a girl.

Luckily for me, I was born into a family that valued education for both sons and daughters. My dad paid for his college education with help from the GI bill. As adults, with children, both my parents earned graduate degrees: a Masters for my mom, and Masters and a PhD for my dad. From the day I started school, it wasn't a question of whether I'd go to college, but where. Same for my brother. And in our generation we too have a slew of degrees. 

One of the reasons I was able to get an education, and make great use of said education was because I had access to birth control. If you, as a party, had your way, I wouldn't have educational opportunities: I'd be home raising kid after kid, home-schooling them (how, I don't know since I wouldn't know anything).

I admit, I have trouble sticking with a specific career path, but I've succeeded in a number of avocations. Things I learned in one area have led to accomplishments in another. I used my education to build large-scale transportation projects for the FAA, the FWHA, and in Europe, I built pollution models for the EPA, I've done defense work, and designed, developed and delivered training programs in the fields of medicine, logistics and manufacturing. Above all, I became a doctor and I've saved lives. On the side there has been a slew of volunteer work with functional illiterates, and I was even a Mensa officer. Accomplished, for a blonde girl. And yet, you want me barefoot and pregnant. Why would you condemn me to have either spent my life unaccomplished, or completely devoid of love and sex. I don't get it.

To add insult to injury, now your presidential candidate front runner, Rick Santorum, has decreed that ALL public funding for ALL education should cease. Really. Watch:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

So I guess what you're saying is that not only should I have been denied birth control, but my mother should have had to give up HER career to stay home and school my brother and me. And what of my mother's mother, who is currently rolling in her grave after having been a suffragette and having worked with Margaret Sanger on the whole birth control thing back in the teens and twenties. 

So let's move this a few decades into the future under the Republican doctrine. Here I would be, an uneducated mother having poorly schooled my children while my husband worked two jobs because in this economy that's pretty necessary. Likely, he would die young from overwork. I wouldn't have a bunch of friends (many of those friendships forged in elementary school and still vibrant today), I'd have no skills, I'd be 75 years old, with no Medicare, no Social Security, having never made a decent contribution to society and I'd be toothlessly pushing a shopping cart around downtown Philly looking for something to eat, an indoor bathroom, and a safe place to sleep at night. 

And that IS the logical outcome of a Republican idea set that evokes more the 1850's then anything else. I can only conclude that you hate me, or you'd never want to put me, and all the other women, in that position. Your position shows a lack of foresight, and a lack of character. Character matters.

I stand with Andrew Shepherd. I stand with Barack Obama. I stand with every other American who wants to continue our rise from the economic mess you Republicans put us in, who believes in education, birth control, climate change caused by humans, science, evolution and all that this country stands for. You want to lead this country into darkness. I stand with the light. 

JWI Leads Efforts to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act


The Violence Against Women Act was drafted by Sen. Joe Biden in 1994. It was passed by Congress and signed by Pres. Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. It needs to reauthorized this year.

Almost 45 Faith-Based Organizations Sign Onto Letter in Support of the Bi-Partisan Legislation

— by Ann Rose Greenberg

Jewish Women International (JWI) is spearheading efforts to unify the faith community in support of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) during this session of Congress.  More than 40 national religious institutions and organizations, representing tens of millions of individuals and families across the United States,  have signed a letter to Members of Congress to ensure that VAWA —  our nation’s single most effective tool in responding to the devastating crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking — is reauthorized this year.

“As people of faith, members of the clergy, advocates, and anti-violence professionals, it is critical that we bring our collective voices together to advocate for VAWA’s lifesaving programs and services,” said executive director, Lori Weinstein. “In these tough economic times, the reauthorization of VAWA is essential and cannot be taken for granted. The faith community will stand strong to ensure the passage of strong, bipartisan legislation.”

More after the jump.
“The organizations that have signed on to this letter represent diverse religious traditions,” said Miri Cypers, JWI senior policy and advocacy specialist. “It is encouraging that we can come together to support legislation aimed at improving the federal government’s response to violence against women and girls. We recognize that this reauthorization process affords us a unique opportunity to increase the faith community’s leadership in passing legislation that is more responsive to the changing needs of victims of violence.”

Since the original passage of VAWA in 1994, the legislation has dramatically enhanced the nation’s response to violence against women. More victims report domestic violence to the police; the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 63%; and VAWA saved nearly $14.8 billion in net averted social costs in just its first six years. But violent crimes against women are still perpetrated each day. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women has been raped in her lifetime and nearly 1 in 4 women has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

JWI also convenes the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition, a national effort for faith based organizations, many of which have signed on to the letter, to come together to provide policy and legislative guidance on domestic violence issues. The coalition advocates for national legislation and public policies that protect all people from domestic violence, with particular concern for women and children. It represents many faiths and denominations and millions of congregants spanning the Jewish, Muslim, Bahá’í, United Methodist, Catholic, Evangelical, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Latter-day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventist and Unitarian Universalist communities.

Jewish Women International is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education, and the proliferation of women’s leadership. Our innovative programs, advocacy, and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength. For more information, please visit www.jwi.org or contact us at 800.343.2823.

Jewish Women International Condemns Israeli Gender Discrimination

Jewish Women International (JWI) expresses strong condemnation over a wave of violence and intimidation targeting women and girls in Israel. Recent events highlighted by the media, including the ongoing assault of 8-year-old Naama Margolese by ultra-Orthodox extremists as she attempted to enter a modern orthodox girl’s school in Beit Shemesh, have focused international attention on the continued harassment and assault of women and girls and resulted in multiple public protests in Israel.

More after the jump.
“JWI vigorously opposes the recent wave of gender violence being committed in Beit Shemesh and urges the Israeli government to implement a strong, sustained response,” said Lori Weinstein, JWI Executive Director. “This is a pivotal time for women’s rights in Israel and we urge all American Jews who care about the well-being of Israel and importance of social justice and gender parity to speak out against the discrimination of women and girls in all forms.”

These recent events are part of an expansive effort led by groups of ultra-Orthodox men to institute gender discrimination across Israeli society, with a special focus on Jerusalem. According to recent reports, women, forced to sit in the back of segregated, public bus lines in Jerusalem who refuse to comply with the segregation system have been verbally and physically threatened.

“These recent, violent incidents in Israel aimed at intimidating and segregating the sexes are an affront to women’s basic and foundational rights. JWI will continue to work in the United States, Israel and in Jewish communities around the world to uphold and strengthen the safety, security, and equality of all women and girls,” added Weinstein.

About Jewish Women International

Jewish Women International is the leading Jewish organization working to end violence against women and girls. In 1943, JWI established the Jerusalem Hills Children’s Home, which treats Israel’s most vulnerable and neglected children by helping them overcome trauma in their early years. JWI also leads efforts in the U.S. to promote safer lives for women and girls as the principal leader of the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally and as a Steering Committee member of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women. JWI’s multifaceted advocacy efforts focus on the passage of the Violence Against Woman Reauthorization Act of 2011 and the International Violence Against Women Act while JWI’s healthy relationship and financial literacy programming help girls realize the full potential of their personal strength.  

Send a Mother’s Day Card to a Loved One and Support Women at Risk


— by Ann Rose Greenberg

This year, as every year, Jewish Women International (JWI) honors the 45,000 women and children spending Mother’s Day in battered women’s shelters through our annual Flower Project. These families, and the shelters that house them, need aid and resources more urgently than ever.

JWI’s Mother’s Day Flower Project delivers hope — both in the bouquets, gifts and beauty products we send to 200 shelters across the United States on this special day, and through initiatives, supported by Flower Project proceeds, that work every day to educate communities, empower women and break the cycle of abuse. Over 70 synagogues and organizations have signed on to help raise awareness and funds for this important cause. For each $25 contribution, JWI will send a Mother’s Day card to any woman the donor chooses, thanking her for the inspiration to help women in need.

Local Participating Synagogues and Partners:

  • Kesher Israel Congregation, West Chester, PA.
  • Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County, Uwchland, PA.
  • Beth El, Allentown, PA.
  • Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom, Wyomissing, PA.
  • Women of Vision – Jeiwsh Community Foundation of Central PA, Harrisburg, PA
  • JWI Chapter 0368, Batim, Union, NJ
  • JWI Chapter 0941, Springfield, NJ
  • Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, NJ
  • Jersey Tribe, Morristown, NJ
  • String of Pearls Reconstructionist Synagogue, Princeton, NJ
  • Temple Har Shalom, Warren, NJ

Participating Local Shelters:

  • Laurel House, Norritown, PA
  • Alle-Kiski Area Hope Center, Tarentum, PA
  • Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, West Chester, PA
  • Women Against Abuse, Philadelphia, PA
  • The Safe House, Belleville, NJ
  • Women Aware, Inc., New Brunswick, NJ
  • Strength Our Sisters, West Milford, NJ
  • Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS), Morris Plains, NJ
  • Shelter Our Sisters, Teaneck, NJ
  • WomanSpace Inc., Trenton, NJ
  • Sarah’s House, Newark, DE
  • Martha’s Carriage House, Wilmington, DE

(Entries in bold have a JWI Children’s Library.)

More after the jump

“When you’re a woman in a place like this you feel like you’re not a part of the world. But when people do things like this it makes us feel like we still matter and we still deserve to be loved,” said a shelter client at Hope House in Lee’s Summit, MO, a 2010 flower project recipient. “Usually we just get the necessities – a bar of soap, some shampoo. And I’m grateful to have those things, but it’s not very often you get something special – something that smells good, something that’s beautiful.”

“Throughout the year, JWI works on behalf of victims of abuse – building libraries in shelters, advocating for domestic violence legislation, and preventing abuse by teaching young people about healthy relationships,” says JWI Executive Director Loribeth Weinstein. “The Mother’s Day Flower Project is an opportunity to touch these women personally; to tell them that we care about them as much as the issue.”

JWI thanks Papyrus and OPI Products, Inc. for their partnership with JWI in delivering bouquets, gifts and beauty products to the shelters. This year’s card features the watercolor “Orchids,” generously donated by artist Sabina Wohlfeiler for use in the 2011 Flower Project.

Beginning as a quiltmaker, Sabina has been creating art since the 1970’s.  In 1989 she took her first watercolor class and was captivated by the medium’s immediacy and transparency.

Especially with watercolor, there is a unique “magic” that happens when artist’s intention interacts with water, pigment and brush.  It is that element of surprise that has kept Sabina working in watercolor, though she enjoys other mediums as well.

Though her subject matter varies, Sabina has continued  to paint flowers.  Georgia O’Keeffe’s statement that people “don’t really look at a flower” challenged Sabina to enjoy her garden at a deeper level and translate the beauty of a single bloom into a painting.

In 2002 Sabina traveled to Greece and did a series of monoprints, inspired by the vegetation she discovered on her numerous visits to the beach.  Seeing the “beauty” in a weed, really looking at the shapes, colors, and forms is what her prints hope to communicate to viewers.

Sabina is a member of Artists Alliance Northwest and ORA Northwest Jewish Artists.  Her work has been exhibited in group shows in Skopelos, Greece as well as locally at The Oregon Jewish Museum, The Portland Japanese Garden,Beaverton City Hall, Valley Art Center, and the Multnomah Art Center.  Her work is included in private collections in France, Germany, and Canada.

To learn more about Jewish Women International’s Flower Project, or to make a donation and send a card, visit their website or call 800.343.2823.

Senate Stands Up for Women’s Health

—  Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism


We commend the Senate for standing up for women’s health and rejecting a bill that would have denied all federal funds to Planned Parenthood, a vital health care service provider. Each year, Planned Parenthood’s network of more than 800 clinics nationwide provides nearly one million cervical cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, affordable birth control for nearly 2.5 million patients, and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV testing. Revoking Planned Parenthood’s federal funding would have disastrous consequences for all of these services and would not change a fact that has endured for decades: that no federal funds, received by Planned Parenthood or any other organization, can be used for abortion services.

The Senate’s action was especially heartening given that the same bill passed the House of Representatives earlier in the day. We have repeatedly condemned such attempts in the House to undermine women’s access to critical health care services, including abortion. These attempts violate the U.S. Constitution and core principles of Jewish tradition, which affirms society’s obligations to ensure access to health care and the rights of women to make moral decisions about their own bodies and their own reproductive health. Women are commanded to care for their health and well-being above all else, and society is commanded to provide health care for its most vulnerable residents. These dual obligations compel us to advocate for broad access to affordable reproductive health care and support Planned Parenthood in its efforts to reach millions of under-served men and women.

We call on the House to stop its relentless attacks on reproductive choice and women’s health, beginning with an end to the campaign to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Statement from Planned Parenthood follows the jump.
— Dayle Steinberg, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania

Yesterday, the US Senate listened to millions of American women and voted, 58-42, to reject H. Con. Res. 36, an extreme proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health service, including birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI (including HIV) testing to patients who are covered by Medicaid and other federal programs.

Planned Parenthood applauds the members of Congress who stood up for women’s health and voted against this proposal.

This vote is a major victory for women’s health and the millions of women who go to Planned Parenthood for health care.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country made their voices heard in support of Planned Parenthood and opposed this radical proposal by calling Congress, writing and e-mailing their elected officials, and attending rallies. The grassroots support for Planned Parenthood was extensive.

This extreme proposal was rightly rejected by Democrats and Republicans. In addition, members of Congress who support abortion rights, as well as those who oppose abortion rights, voted against this proposal, which would have denied women family planning and would have resulted in an increase in unintended pregnancy.

Even though the House Republican leadership insisted on forcing an up or down vote in the House and Senate on this extreme proposal yesterday, all their political maneuvering accomplished was to show that the House leadership is willing to sacrifice women’s health to advance a narrow ideological agenda.

While we are outraged that the House voted to pass H. Con. Res. 36 by a vote of 241-185, the outcome of that vote was not a surprise.

Any member of Congress who voted for this extreme proposal just cast a vote against women’s access to lifesaving cancer screenings and birth control.

More than 90 percent of the health care Planned Parenthood provides – and 100 percent of the care it provides through federal programs – is preventive. We do not want one woman to be diagnosed with advanced cancer that our health centers could have detected early through screening, and we’re appalled that a fringe element of Congress would continue to put its narrow political agenda ahead of women’s health and safety.

Thankfully, the Senate has made clear this extreme proposal is unacceptable and rejected it.

The Paycheck Fairness Act

— President Barack Obama

I am deeply disappointed that a minority of Senators have prevented the Paycheck Fairness Act from finally being brought up for a debate and receiving a vote.  This bill passed in the House almost two years ago; today, it had 58 votes to move forward, the support of the majority of Senate, and the support of the majority of Americans.  As we emerge from one of the worst recessions in history, this bill would ensure that American women and their families aren’t bringing home smaller paychecks because of discrimination.  It also helps businesses that pay equal wages as they struggle to compete against discriminatory competition.  But a partisan minority of Senators blocked this commonsense law.  Despite today’s vote, my Administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work.