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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

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More Than Breakfast In Bed: A Legislative Agenda for Moms

Posted: 05/05/09 07:42 PM ET

I love celebrating Mother's Day. Since I was a kid, it was a special day to tell my Mother and Grandmother how much I love them. Now that I'm a Mom, it is a special day to spend with my children.

In our busy lives, these special days are so important. But this year, with the difficult economy posing challenges for all families, our mothers need more than just attention on Mother's Day. They need a legislative agenda that enables them to thrive - creating economic opportunities for women, protecting the health and safety of mothers and children, and supporting the work women do to build strong, successful families.

First, because of bad Bush policies, single moms and dads who receive child support will be forced to pay a financial penalty to pay the overhead for receiving child support.

This is the wrong approach. We should not be balancing the budget on the backs of single mothers. That's why the first legislation I authored in the Senate was to eliminate the tax levied against single moms and dads on their child support checks. This measure would immediately put extra money in the pockets of at least 170,000 New York families.

Second, all parents deserve to know that the products they use for their children are safe. When I read a recent report about trace amounts of probable human carcinogens and irritants being found in baby shampoos, lotions, and other products, like many parents, I immediately began to worry. I have some of these same products in my bathroom at home, and I've used them on my children their entire lives. No mother should have to worry if the baby shampoo she uses on her children is safe.

That is why I've authored the Safe Baby Products Act, which will require the FDA to investigate the safety of these products, publicly report the findings, and establish manufacturing practices that will reduce or eliminating any harmful chemicals.

Third, every minute of every day, a woman somewhere in the world dies in childbirth or from complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth. Every year, a million children are left motherless because of maternal mortality. You might be tempted to believe that maternal mortality exists almost exclusively in developing nations. But on the contrary, the measured U.S. maternal mortality ratio is one of the highest among industrialized nations and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that the actual level of maternal deaths in the U.S. is 1.3 to 3 times higher than the reported rate.

As a Mom and a lawmaker, I believe it is outrageous that so many of these deaths could easily have been prevented. In the coming weeks, I will be introducing new legislation with my friend and colleague Congresswoman Lois Capps, to invest in prevention and emergency care to protect the health and safety of millions of new mothers here at home and around the world.

Lastly, I'm hopeful that in the face of the worst economy of our lives, Congress moves immediately to ensure equal economic opportunity for women by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The average woman makes just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. The disparity is even greater for women of color, with African-American women making just 62 cents and Hispanic women making just 53 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Women and families deserve more. When mothers earn their fair share, young children have greater access to quality health care, educational opportunities, and safe communities. By ending the wage gap, we will help ensure that every child can achieve his or her God-given potential.

Mothers around the country and around the world deserve all the special attention this weekend, but they also deserve action in Washington on a legislative agenda that will help them succeed.

 

Follow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenGillibrand