12 Ways I Will Stand with Virginia Women as Governor

With the onset of the Trump Administration, Virginia women now face a dual threat from Republicans in Washington and our General Assembly in Richmond. As our next Governor, I will veto attacks on women’s rights from the Republican legislature, prioritize budgetary investments to expand women’s health care, and promote an economic agenda that pushes wages higher and makes childcare more affordable for working families.

In Congress, I opposed Republicans’ attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, co-authored the Campus Sexual Assault Violence Elimination Act, and fought to include pre- and post-natal care as essential benefits under the Affordable Care Act. At the Center for American Progress, I continued to advocate for reproductive rights by raising money for NARAL Pro-Choice America and overseeing advocacy work at the Center for American Progress Action Fund against TRAP laws that reduce women’s health care options, including taking on extreme attempts by Republicans like Ken Cuccinelli to roll back protections for women.

As Governor, I will protect women’s rights and expand women’s access to health care. That includes working to eliminate harmful restrictions on the right to choose and on abortion providers, opposing a 20-week abortion ban, making contraception more readily available, and ensuring abortion care is safe, compassionate, and accessible for women when they need it. As Governor, I’ll follow the example set by Governor McAuliffe of serving as a brick wall against the General Assembly’s attempts to roll back women’s access to care.

I will also focus on the relationship between reproductive health access and economic security. Women are disproportionately impacted by policies that depress wages and keep workers from rising into the middle class. Women make up more than 60 percent of minimum and sub-minimum wage workers in Virginia, and they bear the brunt of the impact from weak workplace protections, cuts to health care and childcare funding, and skyrocketing education costs. That’s why I released a comprehensive working families agenda and was the first gubernatorial candidate in Virginia history to call for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This will especially benefit women of color, as over half of African-American and nearly 60 percent of Latina women earn less than $15 an hour.

“Virginia women now face a dual threat from Republicans in Washington and our General Assembly in Richmond.”

As the Democratic nominee, I will campaign on a platform of economic security that grows our middle class, guarantees benefits that allow workers to spend time with their families, expands access to reproductive rights, and invests in education so women in every corner of the Commonwealth have a fair shot at success.

Here are just a dozen ways I’ll stand with Virginia women as Governor, which we will build upon as we continue to hear from women in conversations across the state:

1.Propose an Amendment to the Virginia Constitution Protecting the Right to Choose

Now that Neil Gorsuch has joined George W. Bush appointees John Roberts and Samuel Alito, as well as Clarence Thomas, on the Supreme Court, we are one vacancy away from Roe v. Wade being at risk of being fully overturned. A woman’s right to choose is under attack by Donald Trump and a hostile Court. That’s why I support passing an amendment enshrining the rights guaranteed under Roe in the Virginia Constitution.

2. Provide Family Leave and Guaranteed Medical Leave to Care for New Children, Aging Parents, or an Ill Family Member

The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn’t guarantee its workers paid family or medical leave. This policy disproportionately impacts women workers, who are often the primary caregiver for a newborn, aging parent, or ill family member. As Governor, I’ll push to guarantee workers up to eight weeks of leave at two-thirds of their pay so they can care for a new child or a severely ill family member. This would also provide guaranteed medical leave so that workers can take the time they need to get healthy and back on the job.

3.Help Virginians Afford Childcare

Two-thirds of Virginia children and three-fourths of African-American children under age 6 have all parents in the workforce, and too many Virginia families are forced to spend more on childcare than on housing — often averaging more than $1000 a month. I’ve made expanding early childhood education a core principle of my campaign and, as Governor, I will push for tax credits to offset the high costs of childcare and provide direct relief to working families.

4. End the Gender Pay Gap

In Virginia, women earn roughly 20 percent less than men. This gap in income and wealth is even more pronounced among African-American women and Latinas in Virginia, who are paid 60 cents and 53 cents, respectively, on the dollar to their white male counterparts. To reduce the gender pay gap, I will use my powers as Governor to ensure equal pay whenever possible and push for legislation that brings transparency to workplace pay and salary levels, so women can see when the deck is stacked against them.

5. Eliminate the ‘Tampon Tax’ in Virginia

Virginia currently provides sales tax exemptions for hearing aids, eyeglasses, and non-prescription drugs, but continues to tax women for feminine hygiene products. As Governor, I will push to repeal the “Tampon Tax” and promote gender equity in the tax code.

6. Combat Rape and Sexual Assault

In Virginia, there are more than 5,000 rapes and sexual assaults each year. This is completely unacceptable. As Governor, I will work with every part of the system to prevent sexual violence, protect survivors, prosecute perpetrators, and support law enforcement, campus officials, and medical professionals to end the sexual assault epidemic. This means starting earlier with middle and high school education on healthy relationships and safe dating, bystander intervention training for bartenders, peers, and campus RAs, increasing the number of trained forensic nurses across our state, and training law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors in trauma-centric approaches so that survivors are supported throughout the criminal justice process and violent abusers are brought to justice.

7. Ensure Choice with Dignity by Dropping the 24 Hour Waiting Period, Biased Counseling, and Mandatory Ultrasounds

92 percent of counties in Virginia have no clinics that provide abortions. Virginia law requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a mandatory ultrasound, submit to biased counseling, and wait 24 hours before completing the procedure. These requirements aren’t grounded in medical science and often force women to take multiple days off work to complete a medical procedure. As Governor, I will work to get rid of these rules that infringe on a woman’s right to choose.

8. Increase Funding for Women’s Health Centers and Family Planning Services

The right to choose means little without meaningful, affordable access to reproductive health services in every part of our state. As Governor, I will ensure that access to women’s health centers isn’t dependent on her ZIP code by expanding funding for existing health centers and providing assistance to nonprofits looking to serve underserved areas.

9. Veto Attacks by the General Assembly on Women’s Health Care

Since 2010, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have proposed more than 75 restrictions on women’s reproductive health care. The majority of these proposals would disproportionately impact low-income women and women of color, denying them access to constitutionally-protected health care for no other reason than their bank balance. As Governor, I will follow in the footsteps of Gov. McAuliffe and veto all attacks on reproductive care.

10. Expand Medicaid Coverage

For years, Republicans in the General Assembly have refused to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. This has prevented 400,000 Virginians from accessing health insurance coverage and cost the state $10 billion in federal funds. Expanding Medicaid would provide hundreds of thousands of Virginia women with health insurance that covers preventive visits, reproductive health exams, and free family planning care. This would also make substance abuse counseling available to more women, who are more likely than men to be prescribed addictive pain medications. I have made expanding Medicaid one of my top campaign platforms and will continue to press the Republican General Assembly to take action.

11. Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Stalkers and Abusers 
One in four women will be abused by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Research has shown that when a domestic abuser has a gun, the relationship is 500 percent more likely to end in homicide. I was glad to see the General Assembly pass a law last year that prohibited those subject to permanent restraining orders from owning firearms, but there is more we can do. As Governor, I will advocate for a law requiring that stalkers, dating partner abusers, and those subject to a temporary restraining order relinquish their firearms.

12. Eliminate Human Trafficking in Virginia

As a human rights advocate working overseas, I’ve seen the emotional and physical toll human trafficking takes on survivors up close. Last year, 148 human trafficking cases were reported in Virginia — an average of nearly one every other day. Shortly after taking office I will sign an executive order creating a task force composed of law enforcement, prosecutors, educators, and community advocates from every corner of Virginia that will provide recommendations on how best to target perpetrators that exploit children and vulnerable populations, traffickers, promote education efforts, improve survivor recovery programs, and prioritize solutions in the state budget. There will be no simple answers, but working together I’m confident we can make progress towards eliminating human trafficking in our state.

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