Research indicates that unless the specific needs of women are taken into account when crafting public policy, those needs will be overlooked, and women will continue to be systematically disadvantaged. In recent years, our legislature has gotten off track when it comes to standing up for women.
Fighting to Protect the Right to Choose – Last session, the legislature passed SJR 127, which is an aggressive step toward amending our state constitution to restrict women’s reproductive rights—even in cases of rape, incest, or threats to a woman’s health. SJR 127 will again be before the legislature in 2011, and Jeff will fight to ensure that it does not get the required 2/3 vote in the State Senate, where the margin is slim.
Public Health – In addition to fighting to protect choice, Jeff will work to secure and defend access to additional reproductive health resources for all women. As a result of the growing healthcare industry here, Middle Tennessee has world-class care to offer its inhabitants. It is imperative that all women have access to this care - especially preventative care in order to lower the incidences of heart disease among women, as well as ovarian, cervical, and breast cancers. Additionally, Jeff will work to ensure the accessibility and affordability of prenatal and postnatal care.
Safety – The State Senate needs to do its part in providing a safe home for Tennessee women. This means reducing occurrences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and stalking, as well as enforcing and strengthening the laws against these crimes. The legislature must work with all aspects of government and existing organizations to ensure that our law enforcement officials receive the latest training in how to work with victims of gender-based violence. Similar collaborative efforts should be in place to provide these victims with the best resources possible.
Workplace Equality – It has become clear in recent years that our laws have had a hard time keeping up with the changing structure of Tennessee families. Currently, 65% of mothers are the breadwinner or co-breadwinner of the family, but Tennessee women are still underpaid relative to their male counterparts. Existing laws to promote equal pay for equal work must be strengthened and enforced. Additionally, the legislature should be creating new initiatives promoting workplace flexibility for working parents, investing in early childhood education, and broadening access to childcare.