Women's Issues

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

January 4, 2021 Press Release

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:

September 18, 2020 Press Release

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:

September 17, 2020 Press Release

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.

September 15, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, today spoke in favor of, and voted in the Committee to advance to the House floor, the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act. The measure would prohibit discrimination based on race-based hair styles by extending statutory protection in the workplace to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, twists and knots.

August 26, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, today commemorated the 100th anniversary of the formal certification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. Last week, on August 18, Congressman Cohen celebrated Tennessee’s General Assembly vote in 1920 to become the 36th state to ratify the amendment, which gave it the required approval of three-fourths of the states. Today’s commemoration recognizes the U.S.

August 18, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), who as a Tennessee State Senator sponsored legislation to create and served on the Women’s Suffrage Commission for the 75th anniversary and championed the public art inside the state Capitol in recognition of Tennessee’s historic role in ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and women’s right to vote on this date in 1920, today commemorated the 100th anniversary of the occasion and made the following statement:

August 11, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, today joined Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and several other colleagues in introducing the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act.

Congressman Cohen has long been a leader in addressing the issue of high infant and maternal mortality, especially in Memphis, and has worked tirelessly to find solutions to these devastating problems that disproportionately affect Black Americans.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

June 19, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a 24-year member of the Tennessee State Senate, today condemned the Tennessee General Assembly for making passage of a draconian abortion bill the bargaining chip needed to pass a state budget. The measure was passed in the early hours of Friday morning.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

April 9, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS -- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) yesterday joined his colleagues in a resolution recognizing the harmful health disparities faced by minority communities during the coronavirus pandemic and urging immediate action to address the ongoing situation. The resolution will be introduced soon.

February 13, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, today spoke on the House floor in favor of a resolution to remove a deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and then voted for the measure. The vote on passage was 232 to 183.

In his floor speech, Congressman Cohen said: