The 111th Congress is being sworn in today and what’s first on their
list? In a moment of divine goodness, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
looks to be the first piece of legislation to address. As we near the end of the world as we know it and swear in President Elect Obama, there is near certainty that should it come across his desk, he will sign it.
The Lily Ledbetter
Fair Pay Act has been living on the edge of passage since 2007, in the 110th Congress,
when it was blocked by Republicans and died in the Senate. President
Bush was clear that had it passed, he would have vetoed it anyway.
After all, it was his two friendly Supreme Court Justice appointees who registered their opposition to allowing victims of wage
discrimination to advocate for themselves in court without time limits. In other words, they decided that regardless
of whether or not someone actually has been discriminated against, the
Constitution deems there to be a time limit on actually doing anything about said discrimination. In a 5-4 ruling, the case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., decided for all victims of wage discrimination (the majority of whom are women) that the discriminators have only to delay any kind of litigous action in order to avoid taking any responsibility for their actions.
I don’t have to tell any of our readers how critical ensuring wage justice is for women, and by extension, women’s health. Women in the United States are poorer than men, in general. Women, depending on the color of their skin, and/or their ethnicity, are paid less, per dollar, than men for the same positions. Without legal recourse – without the freedom to seek justice – women who are discriminated against (millions of women) by being paid less than their male counterparts are not able to correct the issue. If women continue to be paid less and remain living in lower income levels than men, women are also not able to obtain the critical health care they need to maintain control over and autonomy in their lives. Prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, family planning, reproductive health services like Pap smears and breast exams: these all cost money – especially for women who fall between the cracks. These are women who make too much to be covered by Medicaid but either don’t have private insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover enough to make health care affordable.
Want to help women be able to seek justice and summit one more mountain in the journey towards equality? Sign the Feminist Majority’s petition.