Securing Autonomy: The Link Between Reproductive Health Access and Financial Security

Hosted by Progressive Congress in cooperation with the Congressional Progressive Caucus

Thursday, April 28, 2016

2pm - 4pm

Press Contact

Olivia Alperstein                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Communications and Policy Associate                                                                                                                                                                                                   Progressive Congress                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   (609) 206-7920                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


Washington, D.C. — Progressive Congress is delighted to announce our upcoming women’s roundtable connecting reproductive rights and economic security, Securing Autonomy: The Link Between Reproductive Health Access and Financial Security.

In cooperation with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Progressive Congress will host a discussion on women's rights and economic security on April 28, during which Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Pro-Choice Caucus will be invited to speak with and hear from prominent representatives from reproductive rights, women's rights, economic security, and labor organizations. This inclusive event on the Hill will elevate the conversation about reproductive and economic justice while highlighting how a broad spectrum of factors and women’s diverse circumstances can drastically impact their access to reproductive healthcare.  This comprehensive dialogue has the potential to create real forward momentum and spur new progress on women’s rights going forward. 

“I am incredibly excited to advance this dialogue addressing the important connection between women’s dynamic and changing role in society, their economic well-being, and their reproductive rights,” said Dr. Gabriela Lemus, President, Progressive Congress. “Lack of access to reproductive healthcare, lack of guaranteed paid leave on the job, and generally lower wages significantly impact a woman’s financial security over her life-span. This unique roundtable allows us to build a consensus around what women’s individual rights in a 21st Century economy should look like and how best to provide the tools and mechanisms to support women of all ages across the spectrum of race, ethnicity and socio-economic status throughout their lives and empower them to reach their full potential.”

While lawmakers and advocates have worked for decades on improving women’s access to economic opportunities and reproductive healthcare, these are often approached as separate issues.

“For women across the country, one of the greatest barriers to economic security is a lack of access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare options,” Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) said. “The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s economic justice agenda recognizes the intersection between reproductive rights and economic opportunity. Access to contraceptives, abortion care, and routine screenings are fundamental to achieving economic security for women and their families.”

“The link between access to reproductive health services and economic well-being – the impacts of having a child on work, school, families, and family budgets – is crystal clear to most women in the real world,” Representative Jan Schakowsky (D - IL) said. “It is time that Congress and other policymakers understand that access to abortion services and family planning is not only a critical women’s health issue – it is a very serious economic issue for women and their families.  This first-of-its-kind roundtable will help shape the conversation moving forward.  And it couldn’t come at a more important time – when the Republican Select Investigative Panel to Attack Women’s Health continues its assault on Planned Parenthood and other health providers, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing crucial cases that have the potential to set back women’s reproductive rights, and states continue to enact laws that place sometimes insurmountable roadblocks to a woman’s right to make her own decisions.”

With the urgency surrounding upcoming Supreme Court cases and renewed attacks on a woman's right to choose, discussing these issues with the outlook to shape legislation will have an immediate and long-term impact on Congressional action on women's rights.

“The ability of women to plan their lives and careers is incumbent on being able to plan their pregnancies,” said Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Co-Chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. “Yet, women are seeing their constitutional right to make their own reproductive health choices attacked again and again in Congress, the courts, and the campaign trail. With so much at stake, this conversation couldn’t come at a more critical time.”

“Our ability to make real decisions about pregnancy and parenting can’t be separated from the economic realities of our lives. We must lift restrictions, such as the Hyde Amendment, that are making abortion care increasingly unaffordable or unavailable,” said Destiny Lopez, Co-Director, All* Above All.

“Women should be able to make decisions about their bodies and their future,” said Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN). “Unfortunately, there is a nationwide effort by conservatives to stop women from making their own health care decisions. We, as progressives, must work to ensure that economic security is a reality for all women regardless of their income - which means ensuring access to a full range of health care services is essential in order to provide opportunity for working families. Progressive Congress’ women’s roundtable will explore how opponents are limiting women’s rights, the connection between healthcare and economic security, and chart a path so all women have the ability to make their own decisions.”

“The decision to have a child is the most important decision a woman will make and it is undeniably linked to future education, work and financial stability,” said Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair. “As important as this fact is, reproductive rights are largely absent from our national discourse on economic security.  I applaud Progressive Congress and partner organizations for raising the connection between these issues and for standing up for women and their families.”  

Progressive Congress has designed the roundtable to not only include but highlight the variety of experiences and circumstances that influence a woman’s economic opportunities and her decisions about her body. Women of color, low-income women, LGBTQ people, women from highly rural or urban areas, and women from immigrant communities experience particular challenges when navigating decisions that affect their bodies and attempting to access reproductive health services.

“To advance equality for all women, we must address the overall conditions of their lives not just separate issues,” said Margarida Jorge, National Director, Women's Equality Center. “Women, particularly poor women and women of color, do not experience reproductive issues separately from the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of their lives so it's important to advance an approach that integrates all of these elements and speaks to women as whole people in our organizing and advocacy. This is an important discussion to have, particularly in this critical year when so much is at stake for women and their families.”

“Women’s ability to provide for themselves and their families depends in part on having access to the full range of reproductive health care,” said Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program at the National Women’s Law Center. “Measures to improve women’s economic security must include promoting access to reproductive health care. We applaud the Progressive Caucus for recognizing and shining a spotlight on this vital connection for women.”

“The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) knows that comprehensive economic justice policies can make a huge difference in the lives of Latin@s who are disproportionately impacted by a lack of affordable options when it comes to reproductive health care. Our community worries everyday about putting food on their tables and paying for basic necessities such as rent, childcare and healthcare,” Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of NLIRH, said. “As the leader of an organization who fights for health, dignity and justice, we see access to affordable reproductive health care as an essential piece of the whole in achieving these goals. By easing financial burdens, Latin@s remain in control of their health, their families and their future.”

“The right and the ability to determine whether and when to have children -- including access to abortion – has far-reaching implications for a woman’s financial stability, equal opportunities, and her family's well being both now and long into the future,” said Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — the  first woman to serve on the Supreme Court — articulated so well in her 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ‘The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.’ Those words are every bit as important today, when anti-abortion restrictions in states across the country not only threaten women’s access to abortion care, but deny women opportunities for financial stability and autonomy.”

For questions, quotes, or interview opportunities, contact:

Olivia Alperstein                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Communications and Policy Associate, Progressive Congress                                                                                                                                                    ; (609) 206-7920

Below is a brief order of events.


Securing Autonomy: The Link Between Reproductive Health Access and Financial Security

Hosted by Progressive Congress in cooperation with the Congressional Progressive Caucus


Thursday, April 28, 2016

2pm - 4pm


Featured Speakers include:

Destiny Lopez, Co-Director, All* Above All

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Fatima Goss Graves, Senior Vice President for Program, National Women’s Law Center

Gloria Totten, President, Public Leadership Institute

Kierra Johnson, Executive Director, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

Margarida Jorge, National Director, Women’s Equality Center

Andrea Miller, President, National Institute for Reproductive Health



     I.    Welcoming Remarks

   II.    Connecting the Dots:  Reproductive Healthcare Must Be Integrated into the Women’s Economic Justice Agenda

Panelists will discuss how women’s access to reproductive health care is a critical part of achieving women’s overall equality, autonomy and financial well-being.  Panelists will also go over recent polling confirming that voters understand reproductive healthcare access as an economic issue. 

III.      On the Offensive: Lessons from the Field and Strategies Looking Forward

Panelists will engage in a discussion of what legislative, coalition building, cross-movement building and youth engagement strategies are effective in designing an offense plan to ensure reproductive healthcare is part of a women’s economic agenda.

 IV.     Question and Answer Session with Panelists