Marco Rubio, the junior U.S. Senator from Florida, officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election on Monday. Here is where the 43-year-old father of four stands on four key women’s issues.
1. Reproductive rights
The Florida senator has been very vocal about his pro-life beliefs. In a radio interview with Sean Hannity, Rubio said, “The science is settled, it’s not even a consensus, it’s a unanimity that human life begins at conception.” He has also introduced and supported bills that back up these claims.
Rubio was an original co-sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation that would ban abortions starting at 20 weeks based on the belief that this is when a fetus begins to feel pain. “The dignity of each and every human life is fundamental. And deep disagreements exist among our people about abortion, surely we should aspire to be a nation where we protect unborn babies who can feel pain, respond to touch, and recognize their mothers’ voices,” Rubio wrote in a post on his website.
In 2012, Rubio was also one of 22 senators who introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a move to repeal the co-pay free contraceptives available to women as part of the Affordable Care Act. The act would give companies the power to deny birth control coverage as part of their health insurance plans based on the employers’ religious beliefs.
2. Gender pay gap
Similar to Rand Paul, Rubio also voted against a bill that would have closed the gender pay gap for women. According to Fox News Latino, Rubio said “The proposals before the Senate now are really geared toward making it easier to sue an employer,” and that they did not address the core of the problem.
3. Violence against women
In 2013, Rubio also voted against the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a 1994 measure to tackle violent and sex crimes, and establish resources for victims. In a statement on his website, the senator wrote: “I believe we should have re-authorized the existing Violence Against Women Act that has helped reduce the annual incidence of domestic violence by more than 50 percent, among other successes,” stating that he supported renewing successful programs, consolidating overlapping programs, and addressing the issue of untested sexual assault evidence, but he ultimately could not support the bill because of new additions. “Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there’s no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions,” he wrote.
4. Sex trafficking
Senator Rubio has spoken openly of his efforts to combat sex trafficking. In an essay written for the National Review, Rubio wrote: “No American should rest easy knowing that modern-day slavery exists in the form of human trafficking.”
In 2013, he voted for the re-authorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a 2011 measure that fights trafficking domestically and internationally. The same year he introduced the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act to combat sex and labor trafficking of children in the foster care system. “For children, adoptions and foster care should be a lifeline to a better future, not a path to hell as trafficking victims,” Rubio wrote in a statement on his website.
In an interview with Politico, Rubio also said awareness was key in combatting sex trafficking domestically and that particular needs have to be met for young female victims when interacting with law enforcement. “A lot of them find themselves in prostitution and then they get treated like perpetrators as opposed to victims.”