First passed in 1994 with broad bipartisan support, and reauthorized TWICE since with improved protections, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a critical law that has had a tremendous impact on reducing the national rate of intimate partner violence. One would think that passing a bill that works to ensure women are safe and healthy would be a no brainer, but that was not the case last year. Lawmakers in Congress failed to come to an agreement to reauthorize VAWA. More specifically, the House refused to pass an inclusive VAWA bill that meets the needs of all victims, including Native Americans, immigrants, and LGBT victims.
But it’s a new year and a new Congress — and S. 47, a strong bipartisan VAWA bill that would reauthorize the landmark legislation, is already moving through the Senate. Sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), with 60 total bipartisan co-sponsors, the bill is expected to pass the Senate today. But the real fight will be in the House, where the bill inexplicably died last year.
Because Planned Parenthood health centers proactively screen and refer for intimate partner violence in a safe setting, they see firsthand the struggle of victims of domestic or sexual violence. When a woman is in an abusive relationship, the effect is much broader than just the physical and emotional damage — it creates real public health challenges. No case of violence is acceptable — and that’s why it’s so important Congress reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
Protecting women’s health goes beyond the doctor’s office — ensuring women are safe and healthy in their homes, schools, and workplaces is also critical. That’s why Congress to needs to pass a strong, inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization, improving our nation’s response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, regardless of who needs protection.