On the Issues

Protecting Women’s Health and Rights

Achieving equality for all Montanans means ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities for success, regardless of gender. There’s no doubt that women face unique challenges, but by confronting them head-on, we can empower women, strengthen our families and communities, and keep the door of opportunity open to everyone.


Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer charge women higher premiums just for being women. Washington politicians are trying to turn back the clock on this progress, but Steve will fight to make sure that women aren’t forced to pay more for healthcare than men. Every woman has the right to insurance coverage that meets her needs, which means building on the progress of healthcare reform. Read more about what Steve will do in the Senate to make healthcare more affordable and accessible healthcare here.


It’s frustrating, but we know it’s true—women still make less money than men for doing the same work. Steve will push to hold businesses to a higher standard by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. By requiring employers to be transparent about how they pay their workers, we can more easily hold bad actors accountable and root out persistent discrimination. Over half of minimum-wage earners in this country are women, making the fight to raise the minimum wage all the more urgent. Our society should have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, and Steve will work to make further progress on preventing harassment and protecting whistleblowers in every workplace.


Women must have the right to make their own healthcare decisions without interference from Washington, D.C. politicians. Steve will protect access to contraception without copays, and make sure bosses don’t get to dictate their employees’ private health decisions. We need to solidify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. Defending and fully funding Title X will ensure that folks across the state, especially in rural areas, are able to access family planning services.


Balancing working life with raising a family is a challenge for everyone, but too often it’s women’s earnings that take a hit when they have children. Steve will demand better for working families. That means achieving paid family leave so that every parent has the time, money, and job security to raise their children. We can start by expanding access to preschool, so that parents who work can choose what’s best for their families and careers, and young children get a head start at educational success. We must also make child care more affordable, both through financial support to families to help defray the cost and through ensuring living wages for daycare workers and preschool educators.


Each woman who lives with the threat of physical violence or intimidation is one too many. Unfortunately, this is still the experience of too many Montana women, especially Native women who experience murder rates ten times higher than the national average. All of us have a responsibility to do better. In the Senate, Steve will stand up for survivors of sexual assault and reverse Betsy DeVos’ attacks on protections for women on college campuses. Restoring Title IX standards will protect survivors of sexual assault and help to prevent assault in the first place. He will fight to protect and fully fund the Violence Against Women Act, and continue the vital work necessary to end the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.


As Governor, Steve stopped every attack attempted on Montana women’s right to make their own healthcare decisions. He signed an executive order to ensure equal pay for Montana women, convened the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force, and conducted the first-ever pay audit of state agencies. Steve signed Montana’s first Earned Income Tax Credit into law, helping hardworking families keep more of their paychecks in their pockets.