Republicans keep asking, "Are you better off now than you were in 2008?" As a woman, I have to answer, "Yes." Here's why.
The first bill signed into law by a very new President Obama in January 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It declared that employers must finally pay women the same as men for the same job. Equal pay raises the standard of living and the buying power of entire households. Not just women. That's good for everyone.
The president's landmark Affordable Care Act now assures that insurance companies can no longer charge women up to 50 percent more for the same coverage as men. Furthermore, insurance companies must offer the following health services without co-pay: mammograms, cervical cancer and gestational diabetes screening; contraception counseling and supplies; HIV and HPV testing; and STD and domestic violence counseling. Healthier women mean healthier families.
The ACA also means insurance companies can't deny women and their children coverage because of pre-existing conditions. No lifetime caps either. That's good news for everyone with chronic illnesses. Families will no longer face financial ruin because of medical bills.
The president also doubled Pell grants to needy students (more than half of whom are women) when he cut out intermediaries in the federal student loan program. Moreover, by his executive order, law-abiding children of undocumented residents who go to school or join the military no longer need to be worried about imminent deportation.
In addition, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, in spite of 31 Republican senators voting against it. That's right. Republicans voted against protecting women from violence.
On the other hand, what does the GOP promise?
First, they would repeal the Affordable Care Act - even the parts you like. You know, the baby out with the bathwater. They say they will enact the Personhood Amendment, declaring life begins at conception. Personhood also bans common forms of birth control as well as in vitro fertilization. They would ban all abortions, without exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. Finally, a woman's birth control choices would be subject to approval by her employer.
Ironically, it's the GOP saying they want a smaller, less intrusive government endorsing this massive government overreach into areas of very personal choice. Their intent seems to be a government so small it actually fits in a woman's uterus.
Women's issues are everyone's issues. Equal pay. Education. Opportunity. Access to affordable and respectful health care.
Things are better for women. I will vote for the president. I will vote to continue the progress we've made. For ourselves, our daughters, our granddaughters. For everyone.
•-Lorie Schaefer is retired, mostly.