It’s a scary time to be a woman in America. Our health care is at risk, our reproductive rights are under attack, and workplace discrimination and harassment protections are being rolled back. And the pandemic and bungled national response are disproportionately forcing us out of work.
Last week, Joe Biden proposed a comprehensive plan to combat these issues and more. It’s filled with the vision, understanding, and compassion on women’s issues that has worked here in Maine, but has been absent from federal policy under Donald Trump. With less than 100 days until the most important election for women’s rights in our lifetime, the contrast between Biden’s vision and Trump’s disastrous record couldn’t be starker.
Trump’s presidency has been a disaster for women. Despite claiming in 2016 that he would “do more for women than anyone else,” his administration’s cruel policies have threatened our health, risked our physical safety, and limited our opportunities in the workforce.
As a state senator, I’ve been in the fight for women’s rights in Maine. We’ve made a lot of progress safeguarding reproductive rights, fighting discrimination against women in health care, and laying the groundwork for increased access to quality childcare. But since Trump took office, his administration has made our jobs in the Legislature more difficult and more urgent.
While Maine legislative Democrats fought to expand health care access and protect women from discrimination in coverage, the Trump administration relentlessly sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If the lawsuit they support before the Supreme Court is successful, tens of thousands of Maine women would be stripped of health care coverage, bringing us back to a time when simply being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition. Repealing the ACA would also remove the requirement that almost all health care plans must cover maternity and newborn care, meaning that women will be severely limited in purchasing a health plan covering the medical care we need.
But Trump’s crusade to repeal the ACA is far from the end of his assault on women’s health care. While we have worked tirelessly to protect access to reproductive rights here in Maine, Trump has aggressively pushed an anti-choice agenda nationwide. He’s backed legislation that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, and implemented executive orders preventing health care providers who receive funding through Title X from discussing abortion with their patients. And he’s filled the federal bench, including the Supreme Court, with virulently anti-choice judges who could weaken reproductive rights for years to come. All of these actions have put the health of Maine women at risk.
Trump has also continually threatened women’s livelihoods. I’ve spearheaded efforts in the Maine Legislature to reach pay equity and ensure women have access to affordable childcare, promises Trump campaigned on. As president, he rolled back Obama-era rules ensuring that federal contractors must provide equal pay for women, and reduced the value of the child and dependent care tax credit for many working families. He has also taken aim at family medical leave, making it much harder for families to balance their professional and parental responsibilities.
Trump took each of these cruel, anti-women actions before the pandemic hit. COVID-19 — and Trump’s bungled response — have magnified threats to women’s health and employment. Since the virus swept the United States, women have been disproportionately likely to be laid off, leave the labor market, or otherwise quit their jobs to care for their families.
Trump’s coronavirus response failures, efforts to undermine health care and attempts to roll back equal protections have compromised women’s safety in America. But Joe Biden’s plan shows that we can live in a country where women are treated equally, where our health care needs are respected, and where our livelihoods are supported. But to get there, we must defeat Trump this November. We have less than 100 days to fight for women’s equality in this country. Let’s make every one count.
Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth represents District 29 in the Maine Senate.