I strongly support programs and initiatives that protect women’s rights including reproductive rights.
Although our country and culture have made significant progress in expanding the rights of women during my lifetime, women continue to lag behind men in wages, employment opportunities, access to health care and representation in our legislatures.
The increase in women elected to office provides a greater perspective of women’s issues in our legislative process and is crucial to the broad understanding of the array of issues that uniquely or predominantly affect women. The state needs to address the lack of paid family leave, universal child care, wage inequality and access to maternal and reproductive healthcare in order to increase opportunities for women and balance out these inequities.
One issue that must be addressed is domestic abuse which abuse falls mostly on women and is a symptom of the inequality of power in our culture.
The state should avoid contracting with bidders or offerors that require their workers or customers to submit to "forced arbitration." These clauses require women to maintain silence in the face of workplace sexual harassment, and, in turn, allow this culture to continue.
Of course, no discussion of women’s rights is complete without discussing a woman’s right to control her own body and health care. Abortion has been one of the most controversial and vexing issues in our culture and country for my entire adult life. Americans are no closer to consensus on this issue than they were when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and provided women with the Constitutional right to seek an abortion.
I understand that opposition to abortion is often grounded in strong religious beliefs that no law or litigation is likely to change. However, a woman has the right to her bodily integrity, and decisions about her body should not be in the purview of any legislative body but, rather, should be left to the woman and her doctor. The state needs to enact clear, strong legislation that will provide all the protections of Roe v Wade for every Virginian, regardless of any decisions of the United States Supreme Court.
The discussion about women’s healthcare needs extends beyond abortion. It includes the explicit and implicit bias in medical research and treatment, maternal mortality which disproportionately affects people of color, and the treatment of people who are are non-binary or transgendered as well as cisgender people.
In short, we need to reform our healthcare system so that it is reflective of and responsive to all.