There is no doubt that racism is on the increase in the United States. Rhetoric says otherwise, but the facts are there. Equally upsetting is the status of women in America; it is on the decline. Political and social efforts by a country which is male dominated has confirmed the fact that women remain third class citizens.
For as long as most of us can remember women have been fighting for equality. They have been ignored by the men who controlled the government in Washington. Most recently a vote was taken in Congress to pass a bill requiring employers to pay women equal pay when they perform the same function in the workplace as their male counterparts. It failed to pass. The Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked by the unanimous vote of Republicans.
On average women receive 77 percent of the pay men receive. It appears our nation continues to make policy based on 1950 standards. The pay gap is far greater for African American women who receive 64 cents for every dollar paid their male counterparts.
Republicans point out that the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 to eliminate the income gap between genders. The gap at that time was 59 cents, 41 cents less than men. But it has no ‘teeth,’ and the problem persists.
Related to equal pay is the need to raise the minimum wage. Women have greater numbers in low paying and ‘tip-based’ jobs. Two-thirds of these groups are women. Raising the minimum wage would increase pay for women, especially African Americans. Once again, protecting their wealthy supporters, Republicans said ‘no.’
The Paycheck Fairness Act will give strength to the Equal Pay Act. Improvements will be made; remedies for pay discrimination; prohibiting employer retaliation, and facilitating class action suits in equal pay litigation.
The battle for women to have the right to control their reproductive lives continues. Individual states have added restrictions to make it more difficult for a woman to have an abortion, and restrict access to birth control. These issues are directly related to their economic wellbeing. The Supreme Court made the following statement in its ruling: “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”
The proof exists when we look at the increase in the number of women in the workplace. The increase is partially due to the fact that the average age a woman chooses to marry is now nearly twenty-seven, and partially due to a woman’s ability to make choices about when she wants to become a parent.
In 2014 State Legislators in some ‘red’ states have taken measures to either eliminate or increase the difficulty for women to obtain an abortion.
Mississippi has banned abortions after 20 weeks with only rare exceptions. West Virginia passed the same legislation but it was vetoed by Governor Tomblin who stated that the bill, “unduly restricts the physician-patient relationship.”
In 2014 Oklahoma joined 10 other states, requiring an ultra-sound before a woman can obtain an abortion. This law damages the ‘doctor-patient’ relationship and denies women the right to make their own decisions intelligently.
States have passed laws which make it difficult for abortion providers to stay in business. They require these doctors to obtain unnecessary and costly hospital admitting privileges. Arizona and Indiana passed laws allowing unannounced inspections of abortion clinics. This makes a total of 26 states which have passes laws for the sole purpose of closing the doors of abortion clinics.
States are removing insurance coverage for abortion, placing the health of women in jeopardy.
Other bills are in the process of becoming law, including an increase in the length of time a woman must wait to receive an abortion. Alabama has changed the 24 hour requirement to 48 hours, and Missouri attempted to change their law from 24 to 72 hours, but was vetoed by the Governor.
Denial of a woman’s right to be treated equally in the United States is pure discrimination. The issue of abortion places them in third place in our society; the new ‘pecking’ order is men, fetuses and finally women. They continue to be third class citizens.