Women. Women. Women. / by marilyn salenger

The last week of March 2016 has become the week of women. In politics, sports and science. A unique trifecta that puts women and issues specific to them front and center forty plus years after many of them should have been settled.  We have seen Republican presidential candidates publicly demean and victimize women while continuing to vehemently deny our legitimate right to chose what we do with our reproductive ability. And if we do chose, or want to chose what they consider the wrong thing, the leading Republican presidential contender, Donald Trump, wants us treated as criminals. This is the same man who's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was formally arrested on battery charges for allegedly putting his hands on reporter Michelle Fields as she was trying to ask Trump a question. Trump continues to defend this action, at the same time he tells women how much he loves them.  It's a classic abusive mentality.  His opponent Ted Cruz is on record voting NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women in 2013. And let's not forget the third contestant in this race for the White House, John Kasich who as Governor of Ohio, signed a bill defunding Planned Parenthood earlier this year, and on the campaign trail said it should be left up to employers to "be creative" about maternity leave. Both Cruz and Kasich went on record opposing Trump's position on criminalizing women who have abortions.

On the issue of equal pay, our country's five top women soccer players finally had enough of unequal treatment and filed a federal complaint accusing U.S Soccer of wage discrimination. Equal pay for more than equal work does not seem to apply to our women soccer players, even though they have won three World Cup championships and four Olympic championships. The men's team doesn't come close in athletic comparison, sporting a very strong losing record. Yet, according to the complaint, the men earn sixty per cent more than the women playing the same game. Who of us doesn't want to encourage any of our interested daughters to play sports today? But not if they're treated unequally. That's what Title IX was all about. We want them to look up and see role models like Billy Jean King who led the fight for women tennis players to be paid equally, enabling current tennis greats like Serena Williams to win over eleven million dollars in tournament play last year. The issue remains equal pay, and too many women in an overwhelming number of fields are still making less than their male counterparts. 

And it's 2016.

The Food and Drug Administration got into the women's issues fray as well during the week inadvertently focusing on women. The FDA eased access to what has become known as the abortion pill.  The FDA said their action is based on updated medical science, and extended the time in which a woman can take the prescribed pill from seven to ten weeks. They also decreased the number of visits to a doctor that a woman must make for the procedure. Early medication induced abortion, according to Guttmacher Institute, accounted for 23% of all non-hospital induced abortions in 2011. The Institute, which tracks women's reproductive health issues, reports that 37% of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% identify as Catholic. 

Both the Republican and Democratic parties are aggressively courting women voters as an essential part of the electorate needed for victory. But the latest Fox News poll shows that Republicans must win more women voters to succeed. Equality for women is an excellent place for a rather late start in strengthening their women's base. Re-thinking their stands that don't support equal pay, equal opportunity and choice might help. So might showing women greater respect.