How 5 Major Presidential Candidates Stand on Women's Issues

August 26th 2015

Wednesday is National Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates August 26, 1920, the date that Congress passed the 19th Amendment and granted women the right to vote.

In 1971, at the request of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), Congress designated the day in August as "Women's Equality Day." The date not only represents a significant past milestone for women's rights—the ability to vote—but also serves as a reminder that the fight for gender parity is not over.

Below is a breakdown of how several 2016 candidates stand on women's issues—including women's healthcare and the gender wage gap.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has long been an advocate for women's rights worldwide. As First Lady in 1995, she made her now famous speech in Beijing, China at the U.N.'s Fourth Women's Conference declaring that "women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights."


Here's how she stands on the issues:

Women's health:

Hillary Clinton is an advocate for women's healthcare—and even took that message global during her service as Secretary of State.


In terms of key reproductive rights issues in the U.S., the former Secretary of State is pro-choice—though she has a history of moderate language, when speaking about abortion, including using the phrase "safe, legal, and rare." Clinton is also in favor of providing contraception to women who want it, and she also supports access emergency contraception such as Plan B. She responded to the Supreme Court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case, which allowed "for-profit, closely held" corporations to not cover contraception in their health insurance coverage, with the following quote:

"It’s very troubling that a salesclerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health-care plan because her employer doesn’t think she should be using contraception."

She recently stood up for Planned Parenthood when another candidate suggested cutting money from women's health.

"This really isn’t complicated," Clinton said at a recent campaign stop in Denver. "When you attack Planned Parenthood, you attack women’s health. When you attack women’s health, you attack America’s health."

Equal pay:

Last week at a town hall in Las Vegas, Clinton was asked by a young girl if she would be paid the amount as a man, if she were elected President.


"This is one of the jobs where they have to pay you the same," Clinton stated in response. "But there are so many examples where that doesn't happen, where women doing the same jobs are not paid the same. So, as president, I'm going to do everything I can to make sure not just the president gets paid the same, whether it's a woman or a man, but every woman in every job gets paid the same as the men also doing that job."

As a Senator representing New York, Clinton also worked to secure equal pay for women. She introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2005 and 2007, cosponsoring the same legislation in 2001 and 2003, and cosponsoring the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which was signed into law in 2009 by President Barack Obama. Clinton faced accusations from the Washington Free Beacon that she perpetuated the wage gap in her own office and or campaign. Factcheck.org has a comprehensive breakdown of this controversy, with information provided by the Clinton campaign, according to Huffington Post. The data found that the median salary for men and women was the same: $40,000. It also shows Clinton added nearly twice as many women as men to her team.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a fortune 100 company. The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard stood out during the GOP's so-called "happy hour" debate, and was roundly declared the winner of this smaller, shorter fdebate, which took place earlier than the Fox News primetime debate featuring the top polling candidates. Fiorina served as an advisor on Sen. John McCain's campaign, and lost a bid for the Senate in 2010 to incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). (Full disclosure: I previously worked as a staff assistant for Senator Boxer.)

Like Clinton on the Democratic side, Fiorina is the only female Republican candidate running for president.

Women's health:

Carly Fiorina's views on women's health have shifted in recent years. In 2008 she told reporters the following about women's health, citing "a real, live example which I've been hearing a lot about from women."

"There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won't cover birth-control medication," Fiorina reportedly stated at a breakfast. "Those women would like a choice."

She has seemingly backed off this view, stating at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that women still have "plenty of access to birth control" both before and after the controversial Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case, which stated that "for-profit, closely held corporations" did not have to cover contraception. (Pew Research tries to parse down what exactly a closely held corporation is, and how many people this ruling could potentially impact.)

Fiorina is also anti-abortion, and has stated that Republicans did not go far enough when they gave up on pursuing legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"I am on board with that bill and that ban and so are the vast majority of American people and the vast majority of women in this nation," Fiorina told the Hill in January of this year. "This isn't something that's extreme as Democrats want to cast it."

Equal pay:

Carly Fiorina is in favor of equal pay for equal work, but her view of how to get there runs along conservative lines. She explained her position in an April 2015 Facebook post:


Fiorina blames the pay gap on unions and the seniority system are to blame.

However, only 13.5 percent of women are in unions, which cannot entirely account for the fact that on on average women made 82 cents to a man's dollar. Also, women in unions appear to make more than women who are not represented by a labor organization, the Washington Post pointed out:

"Full-time female employees who were represented by unions were paid 91 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earned in 2013, compared to 81 cents for those women who were not. The typical female worker in this category made $893 a week, compared to $676 for a woman working without labor representation."

Fiorina has also dismissed legislation that would correct the gender pay gap, saying that there were already enough laws on the book. "So the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- these are tokens," Fiorina said on CNN in a 2014 interview. "They're gestures. They don't truly help women advance."

Donald Trump

Real estate developer and entertainer Donald Trump is surging in the polls, drawing large crowds to campaign rallies, and publicly feuding with politicians and pundits alike. One of the pundits that he is in constant conflict with is Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who called him out for his troubling past with women.


Beyond making what has been considered a jab at Kelly's menstrual cycle, how does Donald feel about two important issues to women? ATTN: explores.

Women's health:

In recent interviews Donald Trump has called women's health "very important," stating that he'll be a "phenomenal" candidate for women.

"I’m very much into the whole thing of helping people and helping women, women’s health issues are such a big thing to me," Trump said recently on Face the Nation.

Donald Trump has dramatically shifted his views on abortion over the years: he was once pro-choice but is now anti-abortion with exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.

“Ronald Reagan had those same exceptions," Trump said on "Meet the Press.""And many Republicans have those same exceptions." (He starts talking about women at 4:30.)

Equal pay:

Donald Trump has a complicated view on equal pay, which he explained several days ago on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." There he said that if women and men do the same job they should get the same pay, but he said that in his opinion categorizing men versus women in different groups and/or pay scales was "very dangerous." Trump also stated that he thinks women should have complete access to capital.

“If they do the same job, they should get the same pay," Trump continued on MSNBC. "But it’s very hard to say, what is the same job? It’s a very, very tricky question. And I talked about competition with other places and other parts of the world, Mika. This is one of the things we have to look at very strongly.”

Also according to Bloomberg Politics, Trump has said that he supports the notion of equal pay, but that as he told CNN he doesn't "want it to be a negative where everybody ends up making the same pay, because that’s not our system."

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is running for president as a Democrat, but identifies as a democratic socialist. Sanders' progressive platform has galvanized ardent supporters, with large turnout at rallies, and according to a recent New York Times article his message appears to be resonating with women.

Women's heath:

Sanders has a pro-choice record and supports access to women's health. He recently released the following statement after Republicans introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood:

"The attempt by Senate Republicans to cut off support for Planned Parenthood is an attack on women’s health. Stripping funding for Planned Parenthood would punish the 2.7 million Americans, especially low-income women, who rely on its clinics for affordable, quality health care services including cancer prevention, STI and HIV testing and general primary health care services.

"The current attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood is part of a long-term smear campaign by people who want to deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies.

"Let’s be clear: Federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions. The vast majority of government funding that Planned Parenthood receives is through Medicaid reimbursements. Cutting that funding will be devastating to the health needs of millions of women who desperately need the quality services Planned Parenthood provides."

In terms of abortion Bernie Sanders wrote a piece in 2012 for the Huffington Post saying the following:

"We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, when countless women died or were maimed. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family, and physician to make, not the government."

Equal pay:

Sanders also supports equal pay, and has voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act. "If the U.S. Senate had 80 women rather than 80 men as it does now, his bill would pass immediately," Sanders said of those who oppose the act.

Earlier this year he spoke at the National Press Club stating the following:

Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has already had to apologize and walk back a comment he made about funding for women's health. Here's where the brother of former President George W. Bush, and son of former President H.W. Bush, stands on women's issues.

Women's health:

In early August, Jeb Bush spoke at a Southern Baptist Convention about defunding Planned Parenthood. His remarks immediately came under fire, and he has since apologized for a specific quote. The entire quote is below, with the specific problematic quote bolded:

"The next president should defund Planned Parenthood. I have the benefit of having been governor and we did defund Planned Parenthood when I was governor. We tried to create a culture of life across the board. The argument against this is, well, women’s health issues are going to be, you’re attacking, it’s a ‘war on women’ and you’re attacking women’s health issues.

"You could take dollar for dollar – although I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues – but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine organizations, community health organizations, that exist, federally sponsored community health organizations, to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues. But abortion should not be funded by the government, any government, in my mind."

He has since clarified stating the following:

"With regards to women’s health funding broadly, I misspoke, as there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded. They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don’t have the access they need.

"I was referring to the hard-to-fathom $500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood – an organization that was callously participating in the unthinkable practice of selling fetal organs."

On August 25, Bush again criticized Planned Parenthood, claiming inaccurately that they're "not actually doing women's health issues."

In terms of his political record on abortion in particular, as governor Bush supported controversial "Choose Life" license plates. The money from the sale of these license plates then went to organizations that did adoption counseling, but not abortion counseling.

Equal pay:

Jeb Bush, like Carly Fiorina, has stated that there are already laws on the books that should guarantee equal pay. “Wages should be equal, and there are laws to make it so, and they should be enforced,” he stated in July of this year.

Back in October of 2014, Bush was not aware of the Paycheck Fairness Act. When asked by reporter he stated: "What's the Paycheck Fairness Act?"

The reporter explained that it "is a piece of legislation that would ensure women receive the same pay as men... equal pay for equal work."

"Equal pay for the same work, not for equal work—I think that's the problem with it," Bush replied, according to Mother Jones. "I think there's a definition issue."

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