To the Editor:
Now more than ever, women need allies in our state government. In recent decades, we have made great strides in narrowing the pay gap, in educational achievement, and increasing wealth. However, with the criminalization of abortion in many states and the real threat of restrictions being placed on contraception, we can expect to see these gains reversed.
Using sophisticated statistical analysis to identify causation, economists have found that abortion access profoundly affects women’s futures by determining in what stages of their lives women become mothers. These timing decisions reverberate throughout their lives, impacting educational attainment, labor force participation, and earnings.
While Connecticut has some of the best reproductive freedom laws in the nation, these laws are not embedded in our state constitution and they are annually under assault. Republican state legislators, including my opponent Kimberly Fiorello, have introduced dozens of bills and amendments in recent years to limit access to abortion in Connecticut. My vote will always go to upholding reproductive freedom and to including abortion rights in our constitution, if that opportunity arises.
I am a strong proponent of pay equity for women. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, in 2020 women’s annual earnings were 82.3% of men’s. The gap is even wider for women of color. For every dollar earned by men of all races, Black women earned $0.62 and Hispanic women earned $0.54. For every dollar earned by men with children, mothers earn $0.58. The high cost of childcare often pushes women out of the workforce. This is another point where my opponent and I differ. She opposed requiring employers to disclose salary ranges for vacant positions and to provide comparable pay for comparable work (PA 21-30), a law that will help close the wage gap. She voted against a law making childcare more affordable (PA 21-171) through tax credits for providers and loan forgiveness for early childhood educators. She has also voted against accommodations for working mothers in the workplace, such as providing a space for breastfeeding mothers to be able to express milk. This is wrong-headed, harmful to women, and bad for our economy. Our state faces a severe labor shortage. With 113,000 more job openings than available workers, we must make it easier, not harder, for mothers to go back to and remain at work.
Achieving economic equity for women requires us to address the gender healthcare gap. Even with employer-based coverage, women have higher out-of-pocket costs than men. Overall, women of reproductive age spend 68 percent more out of pocket than men on health care, in part because their reproductive health care needs are not always adequately covered by their insurance. To address this inequity, Connecticut passed a law last year (PA 22-90) requiring insurers to expand coverage for life saving screening used to diagnose breast cancer. My opponent was one of only three legislators out of 148 to oppose this life saving measure.
I also support strong protections for women and children from domestic violence. In his recent Community Connections, First Selectman Fred Camillo reported that with more than 200 calls to police every year, domestic violence is the most prevalent crime in our Town. This is another area where I contrast with my opponent. She voted against every piece of legislation that came before her to protect women from domestic abuse, including Jennifers’ Law, against training and posting of information about domestic violence in government offices, and preventing discrimination against victims of domestic abuse. She also voted against funds to assist women who have fled their homes to escape an abuser. We cannot be tough on crime if we are soft on prevention of domestic violence.
The gains that women have made in recent decades are in peril. With the overturn of Roe v Wade, the attacks on women’s freedom are just beginning. That is why now, more than ever, we must elect representatives who will fight for women’s rights. I will be that champion for you in our state.
Khanna, a Democrat, is running for State Representative for Greenwich and Stamford