Women's Equality | Congressman Ami Bera

Women's Equality

As a son, husband, and father of a daughter, I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by strong, intelligent, and hardworking women. My wife Janine is a full time physician who has made tremendous contributions to our community. My daughter Sydra is now pursuing her college education. I feel blessed to have them in my life and to see them doing such tremendous things as we all support each other as a family. They are examples of how women throughout Sacramento County, and throughout our nation, are pursuing their dreams through determination and talent.

Since the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848, we have certainly made great progress towards women’s equality. At the same time, we still have so much more to do. In the workplace, far too many women still face gender discrimination and are paid less than men for doing the same job. Alarmingly, some still blame the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, instead of offering support and hope to women who need it as we prosecute the abusers. Washington politicians and others keep trying to interfere in personal health decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor.

As a father, I want my daughter to grow up in a country where her gender is not a barrier to her success. Here’s how I’m fighting for women’s equality in Congress:


An Economy that Works for Women and Families:

At my office’s Women Economic Agenda forum in Rancho Cordova, where I joined with local female leaders to discuss many of the challenges faced in the workplace.

Today, women still face unique challenges in the workplace. Because of gender discrimination in pay, many women still aren’t paid equally for equal work. Some women face discrimination in their jobs simply for being pregnant. Others can’t access affordable child care options when they need to earn a paycheck to put food on the table. This doesn’t harm just women – it harms whole families and undermines the security of a strong and thriving middle class.

Here’s how I’m working to support women and families to strengthen our middle class:

  • Equal Pay for Equal Work: One of the most glaring examples of discrimination in the workplace is that far too many women are still paid less than men for doing the same job. The discriminatory pay gap is simply wrong, and it’s bad for Sacramento County families. California women lost more than $33 billion in 2013 due to the pay gap, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.

    That’s why I’m a strong supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act to fight for Equal Pay for Equal Work. This bill takes a number of crucial steps to close the pay gap, including strengthening penalties for businesses that violate equal pay laws. It also protects women from retaliation if they ask about their company’s pay policies.

  • Fairness for Pregnant Employees: It’s wrong to deny hardworking female employees commonsense adjustments that would let them keep working when they’re able and willing to work. But today, many women still face workplace discrimination during their pregnancies. From being denied promotions, to being denied the simple accommodation of carrying an extra bottle of water, to losing their jobs entirely, pregnant women can face unjust workplace obstacles. I’m a strong supporter of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to help stamp out this gender discrimination in the workplace.
  • Strengthening Paid Family and Leave: As a father, I know firsthand how important it is to have time to take care of a newborn baby or a sick child. My daughter, Sydra, was born prematurely and my wife and I had to take time off of work to care for her. But I was lucky: my employer gave me paid time off, and my wife could take time off of medical school.

    Today, unfortunately, many families aren’t as fortunate. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, less than half of all American workers qualify for unpaid leave to care for a sick child or other family member. Just 13 percent of the workforce has access to paid family leave through their employers.

    A parent shouldn’t be placed in the impossible position of choosing to either care for their sick child or keeping their job. That’s why I’m strongly supporting the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or the FAMILY Act. This bill would expand paid leave to millions of American families so they can have the security they need. I’m also supporting the Healthy Families Act to give workers a chance to earn paid sick.

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Supporting Healthy Women and Healthy Families:

As a doctor, I strongly believe that a woman’s health decisions should be between her and her doctor. The government shouldn’t interfere with a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. Individual rights and liberties are a cornerstone of our constitution, and there is no right that is more sacred than what a woman can do with her own body.

This is all core to the oath that I took as physician: a respect for patient autonomy. As a doctor, my job is to sit in the exam room, answer a patient’s questions, and empower my patients to make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families. Washington politicians have no place in the exam room.

Instead of interfering in a woman’s personal health decisions, both parties should be working to improve care for women and families. Republicans and Democrats alike should be working together to lower costs, expand access to care like cancer screenings and contraception, and encourage preventive medicine to find and treat health problems earlier. We should be working together to ensure healthy women and healthy families.

  • Standing with Planned Parenthood: I’m disappointed by how some in Congress have launched political attacks against Planned Parenthood’s women and family health services. Planned Parenthood provides access to crucial health care such as cancer screenings, family planning services, and birth control. According to Planned Parenthood’s report data, they provided more than 97,000 breast exams and 93,000 pap tests to California women in 2013 alone.

    That’s why in 2015, I was honored to be the only member of the House of Representatives to receive Planned Parenthood’s Women’s Health Champion award for my work on behalf of women’s health care. I will continue to stand against reckless attacks on women’s health – including efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and a one-sided, taxpayer funded investigation into Planned Parenthood that hasn’t produced any results.
  • Women’s Preventive Health Awareness Campaign Act: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and catching illnesses early are the best ways to stay well and lower health care costs. That’s why I introduced the Women’s Preventive Health Awareness Act. This bill would help women navigate the health care system and ensure that care they may need, like yearly doctor’s visits, birth control, or breastfeeding support is covered without additional costs.

  • Ensuring Greater Access to Contraception and Family Planning: In Congress, I’m fighting to put health care back in the hands of women by increasing funding for Title X, a dedicated family planning and preventive health program. This program supports crucial cancer screenings, access to contraception, and family planning services. I’ve strongly opposed efforts to end this funding, which helps organizations such as Planned Parenthood provide preventive health care for women and families.

  • Protecting Women’s Reproductive Rights: I have consistently and repeatedly opposed reckless legislation to limit a woman’s personal reproductive health care decisions.

    For instance, I fought against S. 304, which would let employers and health plans deny women access to health care that they object to. You can click to play the below video to watch me urge my colleagues to oppose this dangerous legislation:


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Standing Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault:

As a doctor, I’ve seen the physical and emotional trauma of domestic and sexual violence firsthand. This is completely unacceptable to me as a father of a daughter, as a husband, and as a son. No woman or family should ever have to live in the shadow of fear and abuse.

Unfortunately, there are still some who blame the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, instead of offering support and hope to women and families who need it as we prosecute the abusers. As a community, we should stand with women and families who want to rebuild their lives.

I am committed to ensuring that all women have access to resources that empower them and protect them from violence. Domestic and sexual violence against women cannot be tolerated.

  • Pushing for a Bipartisan Violence Against Women Act: One of my very first acts as your Congressman was to vote for the bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which is now law. The Violence Against Women Act gives medical professionals and police sorely needed resources to prevent violence and to go after abusers. This includes addressing a backlog of untested DNA rape kits, improved evidence tracking for sexual assault cases, and emergency housing for victims.

    Here you can watch me urge my congressional colleagues to support the Violence Against Women Act, which ensured greater protection for more women and families who needed help:

  • Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: We need to make sure that women, children, and families who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault have the support they need. They should know that they always have a safe place and caring community to help them in their hour of need. That’s why I’ve supported funding for Family Violence Prevention and Services. This federal initiative helps ensure safe havens are available for women and families at the local level if they have nowhere else to turn.
  • How to Get Help: Anyone in an abusive situation should be able to get the help they need. This is why I’ve supported funding for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know needs help, contact 1-800-799-7233 for help.

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Fighting for Women’s Equality at Home and Abroad:

My office held a congressional briefing with Planned Parenthood and Congresswoman Karen Bass on the importance of international family planning in honor of International Women’s Day.

As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’m working to defend women’s rights both at home and abroad. I believe the United States has a duty to lead by example and to work closely with the international community to protect and promote women’s equality worldwide. Standing for justice, equality, and freedom is part of what defines us as the world’s greatest democracy.

  • Supporting the Health and Dignity of Women Worldwide: Far too often, women and children are the primary victims of poverty, discrimination, and war. The United States has a moral obligation to be a voice for these women when no one else will.

    That’s why I’m working with both Republicans and Democrats to support the health and dignity of women around the world. For instance, I’m supporting bipartisan legislation to stop human traffickers that often prey on women. I’m also supporting the bipartisan Reach Every Mother and Child Act to establish an American foreign assistance strategy to end preventable maternal and newborn deaths.

    The rights of women around the world must be a core part of America’s foreign policy. You can watch the below clip to see me working on these issues in the Foreign Affairs Committee, specifically when I called for action to help hundreds of Nigerian school girls who were captured by the terrorist organization Boko Haram:

  • Ensuring Access to Contraception during Zika Epidemic: The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus as a global health emergency. Though symptoms are usually mild, such as a fever, experts now know the virus can lead to birth defects. I led a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to address this threat to global health, and am pushing for greater access to contraception as we keep working to address this epidemic. Given the risk for birth defects, it’s especially important to ensure women in the most at-risk regions can access the tools they need to keep their families healthy. This should include access to birth control so women can delay their pregnancies if they choose to.

  • Defending Global Reproductive Rights: A woman’s access to reproductive health care shouldn’t be determined by where she was born. That’s why I’m supporting the Global Democracy Promotion Act. This legislation would permanently repeal a policy that prevents foreign aid funding from going to organizations that provide women with access to the full range of reproductive health services they may need. I also strongly support international family planning and reproductive health foreign aid programs to increase access to contraception, prevent unintended pregnancies, and to stop the needless deaths of mothers during birth.

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More on Women's Equality

Sep 24, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07) today voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation that would ensure access to reproductive health care for women across the country, regardless of what state they live in.

Jul 29, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07) announced that he helped secure $275,000 in the FY 2022 House Appropriations package to help complete renovations and improvements to WEAVE’s permanent support housing units for domestic violence survivors in Sacramento County.

Mar 17, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) voted to pass H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization (VAWA) Act of 2021. This critical reauthorization, which passed the House of Representative with bipartisan support, will safeguard and build upon life-saving protections for women throughout California and across the country.

Jun 14, 2019 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today,  Congressman Ami Bera M.D. (D-CA-7), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), and Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-CA-25) introduced the Affordability is Access Act (AAA), legislation to make sure over-the-counter birth control is affordable and accessible for women across the country.

Apr 8, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC – HR 1585, The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), passed last week in the House of Representatives, which included an amendment from Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) that enhances culturally specific services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Nov 30, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Rep. Ami Bera released the following statement on cosponsoring the ME TOO Congress Act, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier:

“Members of Congress are given the public’s trust and should be held to the highest standard. The ME TOO Act is a strong first step that empowers victims of sexual harassment and holds lawmakers accountable for their behavior. This bill would provide counsel to victims, increase transparency, and require lawmakers who settle claims to personally reimburse taxpayers.

Oct 6, 2017 Press Release

Sacramento, CA – Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. released the following statement after news broke that the Trump administration will roll back the Affordable Care Act’s birth control coverage rules:

“As a doctor, I am deeply concerned and angered by the Trump administration’s decision to repeal the contraception coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act. This rule will allow bosses to deny birth control coverage and decide what’s best for women. As a medical professional and public health expert, that’s unacceptable.

Sep 26, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. welcomed the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to Washington today to help stop the disastrous Graham-Cassidy health care bill and celebrate World Contraception Day. They released the following statements:

Aug 26, 2017 Press Release

“Today is the 97th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Women’s Equality Day celebrates the courage, fortitude, and conviction of the brave women and men who fought for equality in the early 1900s. Nearly one hundred years later, America has accomplished so much for women’s equality, but there is still work to do.