Illinois Women Are Moving Forward
by Brigid Leahy, Director of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Illinois Action
Women’s History Month is a time to highlight the many contributions of women. From Ida B. Wells to Abby Wambach, women have been working to make our country better. As Planned Parenthood celebrates its 100th year, we recognize the countless unnamed women who work every day to provide for their families and to build our society brick by brick.
At the same time, even after years of tremendous progress, we know that many women continue to face challenges. We struggle to earn pay equal to our male counterparts. Many of us do not have access to adequate child care or paid sick time to care for ourselves, children, and family members. The list goes on and on.
As if life weren’t challenging enough, now women are facing unprecedented attacks on health care. The Republican leadership in Congress has fast tracked the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They intend to roll back the ACA guarantee of coverage for essential health care, including maternity and basic preventive care like birth control. In addition, the legislation would defund Planned Parenthood cutting off access to crucial preventive health care for millions of patients. In Illinois, over 60,000 patients could lose access to annual exams, cancer screenings, affordable contraception, STD, and HIV testing.
Republicans call their plan the American Health Care Act, but it should be called the Take Health Care Away from America Act.
It is no wonder that millions of women around the world marched in January demanding to be heard. These marches ranged from groups in the millions to just a handful of people – all of them came together to support women and take action. The marches helped to propel new activists to organize and stand up for health care, civil rights, fair pay, and equal treatment under the law. Women are signing up to run for office and create change in their communities.
Planned Parenthood is proud to be part of all of these movements, as a leader, an ally, and a partner. Here in Illinois, we have joined with 35 organizations to say that we are not moving back; women in Illinois are moving forward! Planned Parenthood of Illinois is a proud partner in the Illinois Women Moving Forward (IWMF) coalition. IWMF is dedicated to removing current barriers women are facing and enacting proactive policies in order to enable women to achieve their full potential.
IWMF supports SB 981, a bill that would amend the Illinois Equal Pay Act to address systemic discrimination by prohibiting the use of previous salary history in determining salary levels for future employment. We are promoting HB 2771, which would allow for employees to earn sick time so that they can take time for their families without worrying that they will lose their job. And, we are backing legislation to ensure that abortion will remain safe and legal in Illinois no matter what happens in the U.S. Supreme Court.
We have joined together to ensure that Illinois is a place where women are safe, secure, and successful. Join us at illinoiswomen.org and come to an Advocacy Day in Springfield on Wednesday, April 5th. The full coalition will be at the Capitol to tell state legislators that the issues important to women must be addressed and that Illinois must move forward.