The 117th Congress’ Freshman Class includes 28 women (over 40% of the class), boasting the largest class of woman Republicans in history. While we anticipated tracking candidate positions on abortion, we were pleasantly surprised that so many of the candidates, both men and women, went further in speaking in support of women’s and children’s health issues on the campaign trail. Throughout the profiles, you will find members who ran on issues ranging from support for paid family leave and preventive measures such as screenings and vaccinations, to protecting families from domestic violence and the dignity and health of justice-involved women. Below are ten of the stand-outs—be sure to read their full profiles for more detail.
If you are interested in women’s health and only read one member’s profile, read Nancy Mace’s. The first female cadet to graduate from The Citadel, Mace is used to being a strong leader. She sponsored various women’s health-related bills, including protections for women victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and justice-involved women. She gained visibility—and criticism from her own party—for being pro-life and actively supporting an amendment for exceptions for health of the mother and in cases of rape and incest. During the debate, Mace revealed publicly for the first time that she is a sexual assault survivor.
Herrell will be the first Cherokee woman to serve in Congress and the first Republican Native American Woman to serve in Congress. She caught the review team’s eye because of her strong support for midwifery and school-based nurses.
Bentz is a former board member and vice-chair of Project Dove, a domestic violence prevention organization. At the state level, he was an original sponsor of successful legislation that created Family Connects Oregon, which provides voluntary nurse home visits to families with infants up to six months of age.
In the NY Assembly, Malliotakis supported a number of pro-women’s health laws, which are outlined in her full profile. They include mandating annual mammograms for women ages 35+, eliminating a tax on feminine hygiene products, improving access to lactation counseling services and extending the statute of limitations for sexual assault victims.
Bowman was one of the only candidates to call out maternal mortality, specifically among Black women, as a priority. He supports Medicare for All as the solution that “will confront both racial and gender disparities in our health care system.”
Formerly the Vice President of Planned Parenthood Southeast from 2007-2018, Williams supports “universal family care” that would include federal support for child care, paid leave and long-term care. She sponsored legislation in the Georgia Senate to expand Medicaid coverage for new mothers.
While a state senator, Bice was the leading sponsor of a successful bill that requires information about perinatal mental health disorders be shared with new mothers and their families.
As a state senator, Miller-Meeks worked to improve access to oral contraceptives for women, improve Medicaid access to prenatal care for legal permanent residents and suspend (rather than terminate) inmates’ Medicaid coverage for the entirety of their sentence.
A breast cancer survivor, Leger Fernandez supports fully funding Planned Parenthood and community health centers so that contraception is available and affordable, and to ensure that breast and cervical cancer screenings are routinely provided. She also supports paid family leave.
Hinson supports increased federal support for women’s health centers and supported legislation that would expand childcare tax credits and require employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees based on pregnancy or childbirth.
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We’ve indexed some of the largest and most influential categories to make it easy to find members who fit within these segments—and we pulled out a few fun facts for your next Zoom virtual happy hour, too!
Every member of Congress—no matter how junior they are or on which committees they serve—has the power to influence health care in the U.S. However, our bipartisan research team believes there are a select few who stand out as “Ones to Watch” in the incoming freshman class.