There are some in Congress who want to repeal the last 50 years’ worth of advances in reproductive rights for women, whether it’s through legislation or by cutting funding for vital women’s health services such as Planned Parenthood. I will continue to stand with women and make sure that their right to reproductive choice is protected.
I offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act to increase funding by $4 million for programs to reduce the backlog of rape kits at law enforcement agencies. The House of Representatives passed the amendment, and it later passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on 12/18/15.
Additionally, I have cosponsored many pieces of legislation regarding victims of sexual assault and domestic violence including the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, the Domestic Violence Safety Plan Grant Program Act of 2015, and the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. These bills would make it a right for sexual assault survivors to have a rape kit preserved for as long as an assailant could be prosecuted under the law, establish a grant program to promote and teach relatives, friends, and co-workers how to combat domestic violence, and create an incentive for states to prohibit rapists from seeking custody of children conceived through rape.
Equality in the workplace is very important to me. I cosponsored of the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act by providing effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work and protecting employees from retaliation for sharing salary information with their coworkers. I also cosponsored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requiring employers to make reasonable, low-cost, non-disruptive accommodations to employees who have limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
Access to safe and affordable healthcare is a crucial issue for women. I am a cosponsor of the Affordability is Access Act. This bill clarifies that if the Food and Drug Administration approves an over-the-counter oral contraception, that insurance companies would still be required to cover it without a prescription.
In addition, I am a cosponsor of the Fund Essential Menstruation (FEM) Products Act. This bill allows feminine hygiene products to be purchased with funds from a pre-tax Flexible Spending Account.
In June 2014, I wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to encourage the Department to ensure that women have access to breast feeding services. Specifically, he called on the Department to:
Take whatever further action may be necessary to ensure that women receive the breastfeeding benefits guaranteed by law
Ensure that women have access to breastfeeding equipment and lactation counseling.
Ensure that Qualified Health Plans in states that use federal certification are fully compliant with the lactation services and supplies requirement;
Encourage states to enforce the ACA’s lactation services and supplies requirement;
Educate insurers about their obligation to make breastfeeding supports available without cost-sharing, including through out-of-network providers when the plan has not established a network of lactation providers;
Engage with key stakeholders to reexamine coverage standards, such as the public facing materials that allow plans to provide coverage for a manual breast pump, and develop new guidance that ensures the benefit actually meets women’s needs; and
Increase consumer education and awareness about the benefits of the ACA, including breastfeeding coverage, so more women can access these important benefits and can appeal insurance company decisions if their plan does not comply with the law.
I am a cosponsor of the Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act of 2015 to ensure that our female veterans are taken care of both at home and oversea. This bipartisan bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish standards that require the characteristics necessary to meet the gender-specific health care needs of veterans, including privacy, safety, and dignity, to integrate such standards into its prioritization and methodology.
More on Women's Issues
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, today addressed the House of Representatives as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involving Mississippi’s restrictive abortion law.
In his remarks, Congressman Cohen said in part:
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission, today addressed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Conference concerning the human rights situation in Afghanistan.
MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, today applauded Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision for the Department of Justice to challenge the constitutionality of Texas’ recently enacted SB 8 limiting access to abortion in ways that clearly violate decades of Supreme Court precedent.
MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today congratulated the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum (MMBC Continuum), its President and CEO Jozelle Luster Booker and the entire staff of the Tennessee Minority Business Development Center for securing a five-year, $1,875,000 grant from the Department of Commerce to change its name and expand its footprint statewide. Previously, the Memphis Minority Business Development Center emphasized support for minority businesses in the Memphis area.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted for, and the House passed, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which closes loopholes and strengthens the 1963 Equal Pay Act, including providing effective remedies for women who are not receiving equal pay for equal work. The vote was 217 to 210.
Congressman Cohen made the following statement:
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties today voted for, and the House passed, an extension of the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Congressman Cohen presided at the first hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment in 36 years in May of 2019, and he has been a longtime and consistent supporter of gender equality.
In a floor speech today before the votes, Congressman Cohen said:
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today introduced the Nationally Enhancing the Wellbeing of Babies through Outreach and Research Now (NEWBORN) Act to help address America’s unacceptably high infant mortality rate with concrete solutions. If enacted, the bill would create infant mortality-focused pilot programs in the highest-risk areas of the country to help those most in need address this devastating crisis.
Congressman Cohen made the following statement:
MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, today expressed profound sadness for her family and for the nation on the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He made the following statement:
MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted for, and the House passed, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would prohibit an employer from requiring a pregnant worker to accept an accommodation that she didn’t agree to and from retaliating against a worker for requesting or using a reasonable accommodation. Employers also could not deny employment opportunities based on the need for reasonable accommodations or require an employee to take paid or unpaid leave instead of providing a reasonable accommodation.
The vote was 329 to 73.