Posts Tagged 'women’s rights'

Women Lawmakers Fight Renewed Efforts to Strip Funding from Planned Parenthood

State Reps. Nancy Garland, Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Nickie J. Antonio in coordination with NARAL and Planned Parenthood, held a news conference to fight the renewed efforts by Republicans and Gov. Kasich to strip funding from Planned Parenthood. Chants of “Hear us now” broke out in the halls outside of committee where the bill was being heard and during the press conference.

House Bill 298, which is scheduled to be voted out of the Health and Aging Committee today, creates a tiered system for funding family planning health centers. Planned Parenthood will fall in the final tier, only to receive support if there are funds in the budget after all other centers receive funding. This plan essentially defunds Planned Parenthood, and with it, will eliminate access to healthcare for thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood’s services.

“Extreme politicians across the nation lost on election night because of their anti-women and anti-family agenda,” said Rep. Antonio. “Women across Ohio and the nation stood up and made their voices heard in this election telling extreme politicians to keep government out of their personal health choices and start focusing on jobs, education and equal pay; Ohio legislators should listen and trust women.”

This extreme agenda hurts women and families, by seeking to limit a woman’s family planning options and preventative care. The constant attacks on women and failure to act on protective and preventative policies is bad for economic development and bad for women.  For every dollar invested to help women avoid unintended pregnancies, $4.12 is saved in Medicaid expenditures.

“Simply put, this is about preventive care. Women who have access to preventive care are able to lead healthier lives, to enable them to work and to care for their families which benefits society.  Let’s get back to work on legislation that will help women, not hurt women,” Rep. Garland added.

This bill, if passed, could place a larger burden on local county health departments who often rely on Planned Parenthood to provide services to women in their communities. Many county health centers refer patients to Planned Parenthood for affordable preventive care.  HB 298, would take away affordable quality health care from women.



Rep. Nickie Antonio Highlighted in Ms. Magazine- 40th Anniversary Edition

Rep. Nickie Antonio is featured in the current (Fall 2012) 40th Anniversary Issue of Ms. Magazine.  This special edition focuses on the upcoming presidential election and the importance of voting. “Women’s Lives in the Balance” is the title of the article in which Rep. Antonio shares her comments with the readers of the nation.  The author, Beth Baker, describes: “Antonio, who just completed her first term in a conservative statehouse, expected to be “focusing on funding education…getting our folks back to work.” Instead she has played a leading role in challenging extremist measures that would have, among other things, defunded Planned Parenthood and banned abortion even in the case of rape, incest or a woman’s life being at risk.”

The article goes on to describe the advances women have made over years time but the fate of this election could extinct the many equalities women have just begun to enjoy.  Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority president and Ms. Publisher states, “Let’s face it, in state after state and in the U.S. House, right-wing politicians are passing obnoxious bill to curb women’s access to birth control while they debate giving more rights to fertilized eggs than women.”  Elections have consequences and women will have the chance to ensure their freedoms this November.  The Ms. Magazine article addresses many topics that we as women need to consider when heading to the polls this election cycle.  This issue is available at local newsstands. You can learn more at

Gender Rating by Insurance Companies Soon to be Prohibited

State Rep. Nancy Garland (D-New Albany), chair of the Ohio Democratic House Women’s Caucus, and State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), co-chair of policy for the Ohio Democratic House Women’s Caucus, applaud the landmark ruling made by the United States Supreme Court yesterday which upholds President Obama’s healthcare reform initiative. The Affordable Care Act includes a provision that would prevent discrimination of health insurance premiums based on gender.

 The Affordable Care Act will not only provide healthcare access to millions of Americans who previously were uninsured, but it will also make significant reforms to current policy. More importantly, insurance companies will be prohibited from setting higher premiums for women.

 Reps. Garland and Antonio (D-Lakewood) introduced HB 551 that, once passed, would immediately prohibit insurance companies from using discriminatory practices when setting premiums in Ohio.

 “Ohio’s women will not be forced to pay higher insurance premiums starting in 2014. Not only does this put a financial strain on individuals, but also on small businesses that are owned by or employ women,” Rep. Garland said. “I commend the Supreme Court for upholding the Affordable Care Act. All women should be allowed equal access to affordable health insurance.”

 “HB 551 will ban insurance companies from using gender to determine health insurance premiums.  The Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented in 2014, allowing insurers to continue to discriminate over an additional year” said Rep. Antonio. “HB 551 will help the women of Ohio immediately with affordable access to care. I am calling on my colleagues to move forward on policies that have already been deemed constitutional by the high court and to allow women to finally gain more equality in our state,” said Rep. Antonio.

 Currently, health insurance companies determine premiums based on a variety of factors, one of which is the gender of the policy holder. Women are consistently charged significantly higher rates than men, even when factoring out maternity coverage. The passage of HB 551 would eliminate gender rating in Ohio, and the Affordable Care Act will eliminate gender rating nationally by 2014.

Members of Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus Urges Congress to Pass Paycheck Fairness Act

State Rep. Nancy Garland, Chair of the Women’s Caucus and other members of The Ohio House Women’s Democratic Caucus announced they will soon be introducing a resolution to urge Congress to take immediate action on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

“Throughout our history women have fought hard to achieve equality in education, voting rights and employment.  Our progress has not come easy and although we have made substantial gains, discrimination persists,” said Rep. Garland.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was originally introduced by Democratic Senator Barbra Mikulski of Maryland along with several other co-sponsors.  The legislation seeks to strengthen enforcement of regulations against sexual discrimination with regards to pay.  The bill amends sections of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and requires employers to use qualifications such as education, training, and work experience to determine pay grades.

Rep. Garland added, “The facts are clear, women are disproportionately paid less than their male counterparts and this discrepancy is unfair.  Equality among all citizens is a fundamental aspect of a strong democratic society.  This is pure common sense; we must act now and do what we can to end discrimination in all forms.”

Women in the United States currently make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job.  This legislation, if enacted by Congress, would allow women to seek punitive damages if evidence is found of broad differences between the compensation of male and female workers at a company.  This bill would also bar companies from retaliation against women who seek to find out if there is pay disparities between them and their male counterparts.

The legislation was blocked along party lines from passing the Senate on June 5th.  It is possible that the bill could be reintroduced at a later time.



Reps. Garland & Antonio Fight to Protect Women from Gender Discrimination

State Reps. Nancy Garland (D- Columbus), Chair of the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Nickie J. Antonio (D- Lakewood) held a press conference in coordination with Innovation Ohio to discuss gender discrimination by health insurance companies, and introduce HB 551 to prohibit so called “gender rating.”

Currently, health insurance companies determine premiums based on a variety of factors, one of which is the gender of the policy holder. Women are consistently charged significantly higher rates than men, even when factoring out maternity coverage.  The legislation introduced today would eliminate gender discrimination in healthcare premiums. Ohio’s women would no longer have to unfairly pay more for equal coverage.

“Women deserve to be treated equally to men, and this legislation will make that possibility closer to a reality,” Rep. Garland stated. “Ohio’s women cannot be forced to pay higher insurance premiums any longer. Not only does this put a financial strain on individuals, but on small businesses that are owned by or employ women. This injustice must end.”

Innovation Ohio released a report today that shows the disparity between men and women for insurance premiums in Ohio. According to their report, a typical 40-year old Ohio woman buying an individual policy pays anywhere from 20 to 50 percent more than a 40-year old male and 60 percent of insurance plans sold in Ohio charge non-smoking women higher premiums than male smokers.  The difference in insurance premiums varies so greatly, there is not a clear justification of the premium differences.

“The status of being a woman should not be a pre-existing condition,” said Rep. Antonio. “Ending ‘gender rating’ by health insurance providers is another step towards equality. By continuing practices like this we are implicitly tolerating discrimination and hurting families in which women are often the health care decision makers in households around the state.”

MUST READ: House Republican’s Sneak Attack on Women and Families

While House Democrats are working to create and maintain good paying jobs through programs focused on education like our Kids and Communities First Fund, just introduced, Republicans continue their partisan agenda attacking women’s rights, workers’ rights and voter’s rights.  Their effort to defund Planned Parenthood is just the latest example. Excerpts of an article by the Huffington Post are below:

“The GOP may insist that there is no war on women, but the campaign against Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to one in five American women each year, is gaining ground in the Midwest.

“Republican state representatives in Ohio slipped an amendment into the state’s substitute budget bill on Tuesday that puts family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood at the bottom of funding priorities and blocks them from receiving funding for cancer screenings and HIV and domestic violence services.

“Defunding Planned Parenthood through Ohio’s budget bill is a way for GOP lawmakers to pass the measure without having to vote on a separate bill, which would likely cause controversy. The Planned Parenthood amendment, introduced by Republicans in the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, puts family planning clinics that provide abortions in the bottom tier of priority for Title X funds, making it more likely that the state will run out of money before it can provide any funding to Planned Parenthood.

“The amendment further prohibits federal funds from the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Violence Against Women Act, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act and the Infertility Prevention Project from going to Planned Parenthood or any other family planning clinic that provides abortions.

“The GOP-controlled House is expected to vote on the budget bill next week and pass it, with the amendment attached.

“’This House seems to stop at nothing to attack women and their reproductive rights, and in this case, their access to basic health care and cancer screenings,’ State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), a member of the House Finance Committee, told HuffPost. ‘It’s just a very tough legislature to be a part of.’

“Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio said that of its 37 health centers, only three perform abortions, and none of the $1.7 million it receives in federal funding annually is used to pay for abortions. Opponents of the amendment are concerned that many of the rural and low-income women in Ohio who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics for basic health and family planning services will not have any nearby alternative if Planned Parenthood is stripped of funding.

“Republicans on the Finance Committee, however, ‘seem to be burying their head in the sand on that issue,’ Clyde said. ‘We’ve heard some pretty clear testimony that the services are not available — there’s already wait times, not enough doctors out there offering these services — but the Republicans seem to think that other types of health centers can pick up all of the extra demand and absorb all of these patients. I think that is completely false.’

“House Finance Chairman Rep. Ron Amstut (R-Wooster) and state Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), who are pushing the amendment, did not respond to calls for comment.


Read the full article here.

Republican Budget Cuts Responsible for More than 700 Teacher Layoffs this Week Alone

State Representatives Denise Driehaus and Mike Foley urged the Republican legislature and Gov. Kasich to take a serious look at the Kids and Communities First Fund announced by House Democrats this week.  The fund would help offset historically deep budget cuts after the layoff of more than 700 teachers that was disclosed over the course of two days.

Cleveland City Schools announced that 508 teaching positions would be lost at the end of this year while another 200 teachers take retirement packages.  The district will also shorten the school day and cut music and arts programs.  These layoffs come even as the district will place a $65 million levy on the ballot in the fall to close the budget hole created by the $59 million the district will lose due to state budget cuts. Additionally, the Cleveland Teachers Union agreed to a 5.6 – 6 percent pay cut for next year.  [Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/17/12]

“These kinds of cuts will only continue statewide if we do not take action to curb Gov. Kasich’s massive budget cuts.  This week’s news is incredibly disheartening,” said Rep. Foley. “While unemployment rates slowly go down more than 700 teachers were laid off this week in two of the state’s largest districts.”

Cincinnati City Schools, the highest ranked urban district in the state, announced 237 teacher layoffs this week due to $43 million dollars in budget cuts.  The district says the layoffs are due to funding cuts. Cincinnati City Schools faces a projected deficit of more than $53 million ($53,868,502) in fiscal year 2013 and a frightening $115 million ($115,099,388) in fiscal year 2014.  Julie Sellers, President of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers was quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer as saying, “This year already most of our grievances were about overloaded classrooms…” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/18/12]

“These layoffs will not only hurt our children’s education and future, they will hurt the families of those losing jobs, predominantly women,” said Rep. Driehaus. “Gov. Kasich’s policies are bad for economic development and bad for women.  Our communities deserve better, but unfortunately we’re seeing that women and families are being disproportionally affected. I urge my Republican colleagues and Gov. Kasich to put partisan politics aside and do what is right for our children and their teachers by passing the Kids and Communities First Fund.”

This week, House Democrats announced the Kids and Communities First Fund will be offered as an amendment to Gov. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review (HB 487).  This fund will help keep teachers in the classroom and cops and firefighters on the streets in communities all across Ohio. Additionally, this fund will help curb the growing need for local tax levies due to state budget cuts and provide relief for local property taxpayers. The fund will make up to $400 million available this year from surplus revenue (currently $265 million), a portion of the Budget Stabilization Fund ($120 million), and $15 million from Gov. Kasich’s proposed severance tax increase.  The fund would be replenished after fiscal year 2013 by increased severance tax revenue.


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