Medical Student Division
Please send any comments, questions, or concerns to email@example.com. For more information on national AMWA advocacy initiatives, visit AMWA’s Advocacy Main Page, view Position Statements to learn where AMWA stands on the issues, and AMWA’s past Letters and Amici. Thank you!
Contact your Congressional and State Representatives, at the same time, through this simple online message form. Let them know that you stand with AMWA on important issues!
For advice on how best to write your congresspeople, including email templates, check out these resources from the American Psychological Association here.
Visit Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative working to make sure women’s voices are heard and women’s concerns are addressed as policymakers put the new health reform law into action. RWV was founded by the Avery Institute for Social Change, the National Women’s Health Networ, and the MergerWatch Project of Community Catalyst.
Raising Women’s Voices recently published a particularly compelling piece on What Health Care Reform Will Do for Women and Families.
Current Affiliations and Projects
General Health Information
HealthCare.gov – A federal government Website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Womenshealth.gov – The subset Website from the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
National Women’s Health Week
Missed our Advocacy 101 Webinar? Check it out here
February is American Heart Month. To learn more about how you can get involved in promoting women’s heart health, click here!
Health Enrollment is Open! Please click below for more information!
Supreme Court Votes Against Texas Abortion Restrictions
- In a 5 to 3 vote on June 27, the Supreme Court ruled that abortion restrictions enacted in Texas violated the decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, stating that these restrictions placed an “undue burden” on the ability to obtain an abortion. Those restrictions included requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals as well as having clinics meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. This ruling will likely impact access to abortion across a number of other states.
- The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit (ACLU of Northern California v. Burwell) against the federal government, claiming that the government gave money to religious organizations who denied birth control and abortion services to unaccompanied minors, most of whom are unaccompanied migrant women.
- The Bill H.R. 2646 Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, passed the House of Representatives vote in early July. The bill is aimed to fight gun violence by lessening restrictions on Medicaid reimbursements for psychiatric hospitals and mental health facilities.
- On January 1st, a new Equal Pay law will take effect in California. SB-358 will prohibit employers from paying men and women differently for “substantially similar work” and from punishing employees who discuss their salaries. The latter provision will ensure that women will not suffer from enquiring about their colleagues’ salaries in order to negotiate equal pay. Although the law is a step forward, the burden still remains on women to compare salaries with colleagues and establishing fair pay will be challenging in single-sex workplaces.
- In early December, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri signed an executive order related to equal pay. The executive order directs state agencies to use preliminary guidelines put forward by the Women’s Foundation and the University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy to identify and address gender wage gaps and to provide equal pay for equal work. The executive order strongly encourages private sector organizations to do the same (with of course, the impact of such encouragement expected to be lesser). Notably, Missouri is one of 46 states with equal pay laws. However, a study conducted by the University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy found that between 2008-2012 female workers in Missouri earned 71% of what men did. We look forward to hearing about concrete effects of the order in more detail.
- HR 2915, the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act directs the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs to identify mental healthcare and suicide prevention programs that are particularly effective for women veterans. The bill was introduced in June, and after review by committee, sent to the House for consideration in mid September. This bill arrives after research released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in May 2015 found that female veterans, who now represent 20% of military recruits, are six times as likely to commit suicide as their civilian counterparts.
- Senate Bill Resolution 81 passed through the senate in early 2015 without amendment. This bill is entitled “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that children trafficked for sex in the United States should not be treated or regarded as child prostitutes because there is no such thing as a ‘child prostitute,’ only children who are victims or survivors of rape and sex trafficking.” The bill is split into to two sections. The first requires that all federal entities should treat children trafficked for sex as victims/survivors of sex trafficking. The second requires that lawmakers, law enforcers and media should frame children as if they are victims of an act of violence against children. In accordance with this definition, the bill expresses support for 1) efforts to arrest and prosecute sex traffickers, 2) efforts to raise awareness of the servces needed to heal from sexual trauma, and 3) ending the demand for children in the commercial sex market.
- This bill’s rejection of labeling minors as child prostitutes relies on the definition of consent – in which children under 18 cannot give consent for sex because they are not of age. It is important because it will decrease the criminalization rate of victims/survivors of human trafficking. It will protect children in sex trafficking industry and will allow these victims/survivors the chance to recover without the worry about being persecuted under federal/state law.
Other bills/issues to watch:
- The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act of 2015, which reauthorizes treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women. It also establishes funding for a pilot program for innovative substance abuse service delivery models.
- The Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, which gives states the ability to end their Funding to Planned Parenthood by allowing states to exclude healthcare providers who perform abortions from state Medicaid. The bill passed the house on September 29, 2015.
Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015: H.R. 3134/S 764
This bill prohibits for a one-year period the availability of federal funds for any purpose to Planned Parenthood of America unless the organization certifies that they and their affiliates will not perform or provide funds to any other entity that performs abortions. The restriction does not apply in cases of rape or incest or where a physical condition endangers a woman’s life unless an abortion is performed. Under the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture seeks repayment of federal assistance received by Planned Parenthood of America if the act is violated. The bill passed the House 241-187 on 9/18/15. Of note, a spending bill that includes a provision cutting off federal financing for Planned Parenthood has recently been a serious point of contention in the Senate. The provision regarding Planned Parenthood is now expected to be dropped from the Senate bill.
Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2015: S 1520/H.R. 2216
This bill amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to close key loopholes in the definition of an “intimate partner” who cannot possess a firearm. While previously, an intimate partner included only spouses, former spouses, parents, those who share a child, and cohabitants, those currently or previously in a relationship with an abuser are now included. Additionally, while previously only abusers with permanent restraining orders against them could not purchase firearms, this piece of legislation extends prohibitions to those with temporary restraining orders as well. Finally, this bill extends gun sale restrictions to those convicted of stalking.
Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015: H.R. 398
This bill passed the House in January, and is up for discussion in Senate. It has a 73% chance of being enacted. It requires the Department of Health and Human Services to award one medical or nursing school a grant to develop best practices for healthcare professionals to recognize and respond to victims of severe trafficking. The grantee will develop training programs focused on best practices, run a pilot testing its program, and analyze results from this pilot. The best practices targeted will include risk factors and indicators of a severe form of trafficking, Federal and State reporting requirements, how HIPAA and other privacy requirements apply to victims of severe trafficking, public and private social services available for victims, referral options for victims, and validated assessment tools for identifying victims.
SOAR to Health and Wellness Act of 2015: S1446
The SOAR to Health and Wellness Act of 2015 aims to address human trafficking from within the healthcare system. This bill establishes a pilot program that teaches healthcare providers to SOAR – which means to Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond in order to recognize and assist patients who may be victims of human trafficking. Providers will learn to identify potential victims, implement proper protocols to report to and work with law enforcement, and refer victims to appropriate organizations in an effort to provide coordinated, victim-centered care. The bill was introduced and assigned to a congressional committee on May 21, 2015 and has a 2% predicted chance of being enacted.
A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women: Senate Joint Resolution 16
This resolution states that the equality of rights under law should not be denied or abridged by the US or any states based on sex. It gives Congress the power to enforce appropriate related legislation, which will take effect 2 years after ratification. This resolution, written and sponsored by Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menéndez, was introduced and referred to a Congressional Committee on May 7, 2015. A sister resolution was introduced into the House of Representatives on May 14, 2015, which states that “women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” It echoes the Equal Rights Amendment, which was a proposed Congressional amendment in 1923 that called for equal rights for women. It was previously introduced in the 113th Congress, in 2013.
The Paycheck Fairness Act amends the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Some of its most important aspects are that it: 1) allow wages rate differentials only based on bona fide factors such as education, training, and experience that are not sex-based, 2) makes it unlawful for employers to mandate employers to sign contracts that prohibit them from disclosing wage information, 3) makes employers who violate sex discrimination prohibitions liable in civil action, and 4) states that sex discrimination cases may be maintained as class action suits.The bill also has provisions to fund negotiation skills training programs for girls and women. Notably, the bill was first introduced in 2009, and was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate in 2014. It is currently under consideration in both House and Senate committees, and has a 1% chance of being enacted.
A similar but separate bill, called the Act to Establish Pay Equity, has been introduced in Massachusetts. We will report on this bill next month!
AMWA Advocacy Calendar: Click on any month to learn more!
Past Affiliations and Projects
Pearl of Wisdom – The Pearl of Wisdom Campaign to Prevent Cervical Cancer is a united, global effort to raise awareness of the opportunities now available to prevent cervical cancer, launched in the U.S. in January 2009.
The Clothesline Project – The Clothesline Project is a program started in 1990 on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to address the issue of violence against women. It is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women. With the support of many, it has since spread world-wide.