Representative Louise Slaughter is an outspoken national champion of women's rights. From fighting to end the scourge of sexual assault in the military to expanding athletic opportunities for high school women through Title IX, Rep. Slaughter is an unapologetic champion for equal treatment for all women, both in the United States and around the world.
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Domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking are significant problems affecting women and girls throughout our country. In the United States alone, approximately two million women are physically or sexually assaulted or stalked by an intimate partner every year. In December 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), which found that 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime and 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by a partner. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. And, young women 16 to 24 years old are now experiencing the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
Studies demonstrate that up to one half of these women will lose their jobs in the aftermath of the crime. Victims of gender-based violence experience higher rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and mental illnesses, addiction, eating disorders, suicide and self-esteem problems than non-victims. Total costs to our economy of rape and sexual assault are estimated to be $127 billion a year in the United States, including loss of productivity, medical and mental health care, police and fire services, social/victim services, and quality of life issues.
Congress has a responsibility to ensure that rape prevention programs are fully funded, that law enforcement has resources, that battered women shelters are open, and that victim advocates have the training to stop violence against women.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has saved lives and helped millions of victims find safety, security and self-sufficiency. Since VAWA's enactment in 1994, cases of domestic violence have fallen and over one million women have used the justice system to obtain protective orders against their batterers.
Rep. Slaughter was an original co-author of the first VAWA in 1994, and she has been a cosponsor of subsequent VAWA reauthorizations each year.
Rep. Slaughter led the fight to include two critical provisions in the House passed Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962, mandating that domestic violence no longer be considered a preexisting condition and requiring brief counseling as a part of the essential benefits package. Studies recently released have shown that a two minute screening of domestic violence victims in yearly checkups with their primary care physician can save nearly $6 billion in chronic health care costs each year.
In the 112th Congress, Rep. Slaughter introduced the Violence Against Women Health Initiative Act, which would help health providers prevent and respond to domestic and sexual violence. Health care providers often only address current injuries, without tackling the underlying cause of those injuries. This highlights the need to ensure that health care providers have the necessary training and support in order to assess, refer, and support victims of domestic violence. H.R. 1578 reauthorizes three existing health programs at current funding authorization levels with changes designed to increase evaluation and accountability.
Representative Louise Slaughter is a longstanding advocate for the reproductive rights of women living in the United States and throughout the world. Since the 107th Congress, she has served as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, a Members' organization which works to protect women's reproductive freedom and to educate the public about reproductive choice. In this position, Rep. Slaughter has brought together leaders from both sides of the aisle to introduce legislation ensuring the availability of family planning services, including emergency contraception; access to comprehensive sex education for our nation's young people; the protection of pregnant women from violence; and the right to choose legal and safe reproductive health options. In addition, the Congresswoman, along with the Pro-Choice Caucus leadership, has fought against federal abortion bans and attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Representative Slaughter is a long-time supporter of a woman's right to choose from a full range of reproductive options. Given the number of unplanned pregnancies which occur each year, she believes we must all work to provide the necessary support and counseling in order to improve access to contraception and knowledge of reproductive choice.
Because reproductive choices are deeply personal in nature, Rep. Slaughter believes such choices should rest with the woman, her physician, and the family or friends she chooses to consult. If a woman's choice is to bear a child, she can always count on Rep. Slaughter to vote in support of pre-natal care, child care, nutrition, immunization and educational programs.
Throughout her tenure in Congress, Rep. Slaughter has fought to protect a woman's right to choose. In particular, she has spoken out and voted against congressional efforts to restrict physicians' ability to treat patients by selectively banning certain procedures.
Concerned about tactics utilized by anti-choice extremists to shut down health care clinics in the Rochester and Buffalo region and across the country, Rep. Slaughter was an original cosponsor of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1993 (FACE). Rep. Slaughter believes it is important to guarantee that a woman's right to choose abortion is not rendered useless because she cannot get through the door of a clinic. In May 1994, FACE became law, making it a federal crime to obstruct access to a reproductive health clinic or to interfere with anyone seeking health services.
On June 6, 2009, Rep. Slaughter led the charge to condemn the shooting death of Dr. George Tiller by introducing H.Res. 505 offering Congress' condolences to the Tiller Family while also condemning gun violence in places of worship. H.Res. 505 passed unanimously in the House.
During the 112th Congress, Rep. Slaughter introduced H.R. 2085, the MARCH for Military Women Act, which would give women in the military access to the same reproductive services as all other American women. The health coverage provided to servicewomen fails to cover abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. Moreover, our servicewomen cannot pay for abortions with their own money on overseas military bases, even when local services are unsafe. Every woman should have access to comprehensive health care coverage. At the very least, women in the military should not receive lesser care than other women with government insurance.
In addition to her many other accomplishments on reproductive rights, Rep. Slaughter has:
Within the past few years, Rep. Slaughter made significant progress in drawing national attention to the problem of sexual assault of women in the military. In March of 2004, the Congresswoman led a hearing on this issue and presented a report containing the transcript of the hearing to U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Following the hearing, in May 2004, the U.S. House unanimously passed an amendment championed by Rep. Slaughter requiring the Pentagon to develop a comprehensive and uniform policy to prevent and respond to sexual assault of women in the military. Since enactment of this policy, Rep. Slaughter has hosted annual briefings whereby DoD has presented its report findings and progress on this issue to Congress.
In May 2005, Rep. Slaughter introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1815) to ensure that the DoD provides better care to military victims of sexual assault. Specifically, this language requires the Secretary of Defense to assess the availability and accessibility within assigned or deployed units of trained personnel, rape evidence kits, testing supplies for pregnancies and STIs, as well as other critical resources. It also requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to enhance accessibility of supplies, trained personnel, and transportation resources in response to sexual assaults occurring in deployed units. The language was part of an en bloc amendment offered by Chairman Hunter, which was approved by voice vote.
Rep. Slaughter then introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 5122) requiring DoD to include the results of disciplinary action, including Article 15s and court-martial convictions, as part of the annual report on sexual assault in the military. The amendment was once again part of an en bloc amendment offered by Chairman Hunter and approved by voice vote.
In January 2008, Rep. Slaughter led a bipartisan effort calling on the U.S. State Department and the Department of Defense to establish protocols for protecting the rights of women sexually assaulted by US contractors overseas.
In February 2009, Rep. Slaughter reintroduced her comprehensive legislation entitled the Military Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Act, H.R. 840, to address multifaceted aspects of both sexual assault and domestic violence within the military in order to ensure that women, and men, are not subject to violence and assault by their fellow members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
In May of 2010, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) introduced H.R. 5347, The Force Protection and Readiness Act, a set of new measures to deal with the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military. H.R. 5347 was based on the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services report released in December 2009.
On December 5, 2011, Rep. Slaughter led a letter with 46 of her colleagues in a bipartisan effort to urge the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include several provisions from the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 into the final legislation. As a result, four provisions of the Force Protection and Readiness Act were included in the FY 2012 NDAA, which means that now:
Rep. Slaughter has successfully championed efforts to prevent sexual assault in the military, and she will continue to lead this fight. Women serving in the military deserve no less.
Rep. Slaughter has been leading the charge to uphold the federal government's commitment to Title IX, the women's educational fairness and equity law. Enacted in 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments requires federally funded schools to provide comparable educational and athletic opportunities for both females and males. In the thirty-eight years since Title IX was enacted, women's participation in sports has grown exponentially and female athletics are gaining more and more national attention. However, high school girls still receive what amounts to 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play sports than high school boys.
In order to help remedy these disparities, Rep. Slaughter introduced H.R. 485, the High School Athletics Accountability Act, which currently has 73 bipartisan cosponsors and has been endorsed by over 60 organizations including the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). This bill will help high schools improve opportunities for girls in sports, and thereby encourage the participation of both girls and boys in athletics. The High School Athletics Accountability Act requires that high schools report basic data on the number of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams. Federal law requires colleges to make gender equity in sports information publicly available each year; however high schools are not required to disclose any data on equity in sports, making it difficult for high schools and parents to ensure fairness in their athletics programs. Better information can help high schools and parents of schoolchildren foster fairness in athletic opportunities for girls and boys.
In addition to addressing women and girls in sports, Rep. Slaughter has worked to draw attention to the importance of encouraging girls in non-traditional fields such as science, math, engineering and technology; training for displaced homemakers and single parents; improving girls' self-esteem; and supporting basic education for girls in developing countries around the world.
Throughout her nearly twenty-five years in Congress, Rep. Slaughter has been a tireless advocate on issues of concern to women in the workplace and women small business owners.
Rep. Slaughter continues to highlight issues affecting working women, such as the need for improved child care, preschool and after school care for children, diversity in the workforce, career training for displaced homemakers and single parents, the glass ceiling and the gender gap in wages, employment issues faced by women with disabilities, balancing work and family, supporting Women's Business Centers, and addressing gender disparities in the fields of math, science, engineering and technology.
Rep. Slaughter is a lead cosponsor of both the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 11) which was signed into law by President Obama on January 29, 2009, rectifies the Supreme Court's decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, by restoring the longstanding interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – that each paycheck that results from a discriminatory decision is itself a discriminatory act that resets the clock on the 180-day period within which a worker must file. The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12), which passed that House and is currently under consideration in the Senate, takes affirmative steps to eliminate gender-based wage discrimination and ensure that women earn what men earn for doing the same job. The legislation adheres to the current work standards under the Equal Pay Act but would reform the procedures for enforcing the law.
Rep. Slaughter has worked hard to draw attention to and eliminate violations of basic human rights of women and children throughout the globe. While in Congress, Rep. Slaughter has worked on many issues affecting international women's human rights, such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, trafficking in women and girls, women and HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, women and hunger, basic education for girls, and violence against women.
In June 2005, Rep. Slaughter called upon Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to convey the US's serious concern over the Pakistani government's treatment and detention of Mukhtaran Bibi. In 2002, a village council of elders sentenced Mukhtaran Bibi to be gang-raped for the alleged misconduct of her brother. She was then forced to walk home naked in front of a crowd of onlookers. Instead of committing suicide out of shame, which is often the result of rapes in Pakistan, Mukhtaran Bibi became an outspoken advocate for women's rights and challenged the status quo of women in Pakistan by seeking justice. She testified against her perpetrators in court, and six men were convicted. Since those convictions, Ms. Bibi has used her compensation money to start two elementary schools, to purchase a women's shelter, to convert a van into a local ambulance, and continues to speak out against honor killings and rapes of women. Despite great pressure upon her to remain silent, she has traveled abroad to publicize the plight of women in similar situations. As a result of the outspokenness of Rep. Slaughter and others, the government of Pakistan ultimately permitted Mukhtaran Bibi to travel to the US.
In the 108th Congress, Rep. Slaughter led the effort to increase funding levels in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for the United Nations Development Fund for Women. UNIFEM supports innovative programs promoting women's basic human rights and status throughout more than 100 countries. The agency works in partnership with UN organizations, governments and NGOs to reduce women's poverty, end violence against women, halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, and support women's roles in conflict prevention and reconstruction efforts. UNIFEM projects promote peace and stability on the ground in many areas of strategic interest to the U.S., such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the former Soviet Union. Helping to pave the way from conflict to constitution in Iraq, the organization has supported organizations advocating for women's political rights and participation. UNIFEM has also been working to stem the tide of violence against women throughout the world by administering the Trust Fund to Support Actions to Eliminate Violence Against Women.
For several years, Rep. Slaughter has led the effort to seek funding for international family planning services based on the knowledge that these fiscally responsible programs work: as a result, women and children are healthier, they live longer, and fewer abortions are necessary. U.S. assistance in FY 2011 helped prevent 11.7 million unintended pregnancies, 5.1 million abortions, 140,000 children from losing their mothers and 32,000 women from dying.
Rep. Slaughter is an outspoken national champion of women's rights. She constantly fights for the equality and rights of women, calling for awareness and action both in the U.S. and abroad.
In the 112th Congress, Rep. Slaughter introduced H.R 6150, the Reauthorization of the National Women’s Rights History Project. After nearly a decade of effort by Rep. Slaughter and then-Senator Hillary Clinton, the National Women’s Rights History Project Act was signed into law as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. With its authorization set to expire in Fiscal Year 2013, it is vital that Congress reauthorize the program – and then appropriate funding for it – to ensure that the women who fought for and secured women’s rights are honored for generations to come.
The National Women’s Rights History Project will establish an auto route – the Votes for Women Trail - linking sites significant to the struggle for women's suffrage. It will also expand the current National Register of "Places Where Women Made History" to include additional historic sites. Finally, this Project will establish a public-private partnership network to offer financial and technical assistance for educational programs about the history of the fight for women's rights.
Rep. Slaughter has been involved in a number of other efforts on women's history. Rep. Slaughter also actively promoted moving the historic Women's Suffrage Statue of Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton from the Capitol's basement into the Rotunda and delivered a speech at the celebration marking the placement of the monument in the Rotunda.