Women’s Health, Pay Equity and Choice

From his first days in the Maryland legislature to his current time in Congress, Chris Van Hollen has been a recognized champion on issues vital for women and families.

Not content to be just a vote, he has been a leader in the fights to guarantee economic empowerment, protect women’s health, secure equal rights under the Constitution, and prevent violence against women. He has earned 100 percent ratings from Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro Choice America, and the American Association of University Women every year since his election to Congress.

As then-President of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, said: “For activists who have fought for women’s rights … Chris Van Hollen is a hero.”


In his role as the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, Chris has introduced budgets that represent our democratic values and support women and families. His budget calls on Congress to ensure equal pay for equal work by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, increase the minimum wage, support women entrepreneurs and small businesses, and enact policies for earned paid sick leave. His economic plan would increase and modernize tax credits that help parents pay for child care.

Chris believes that putting gender equality in the U.S. Constitution is long overdue, and is a leading supporter of efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) — which fell three states short of ratification in the 1970s.  He will work in the U.S. Senate to prohibit gender bias in the workplace.

As a key member of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team, Chris helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which became the first bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009.


In his very first election for the Maryland legislature, Chris ran as part of the Choice Team. Once elected, he helped pass legislation to codify abortion rights into state law so that the rights of Maryland women would be protected even if any future Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v Wade. Chris received the Betty Tyler Award from Planned Parenthood of Maryland for his leadership in this effort.

As a member of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, he has helped successfully fight Republican efforts to strip access to abortion coverage from the ACA and is a leading supporter of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prevent state and local governments from passing restrictive laws that impede choice.

He also worked closely in the House Leadership for women’s health during the debate over the Affordable Care Act, addressing discrimination against women in the health care system, and improving access to preventive services, including cancer screenings and birth control.  He has encouraged the Department of Health and Human Services to increase oversight of birth control coverage to ensure that women are receiving their benefits under the law. As the top Democrat on Budget Committee, he has repeatedly led fights against GOP efforts to repeal the ACA, and has included increased funding for prevention and treatment of women’s health issues and access to family planning in the Democratic budgets he’s authored.

As a state legislator, Chris worked successfully to increase funding for breast cancer screenings and treatment in Maryland and has continued those efforts in Congress.  Chris has repeatedly been recognized by the National Breast Cancer Coalition for his work this area.

Chris supports comprehensive sex education to ensure that young people have the information they need to make responsible choices.  He has fought efforts to strip funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X.


Chris has always advocated for domestic violence laws, from his time in the Maryland legislature where he fought for strong protective orders to his strong support for efforts in Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The reauthorization expanded protections for immigrants and LGBT individuals and included provisions from the Campus SAVE Act, a bill Chris cosponsored to provide greater protection for college students. Chris is also a leading supporter of the STOP Act to provide independent oversight of sexual assault cases in the military.

In addition, Chris has been a leader in the fight against gun violence which affects thousands of women and their families. He is the architect of common sense legislation to help put a stop to the more than 33,000 firearm-related deaths that occur in our country every year by helping states implement handgun purchaser licensing laws – measures that have sharply cut gun violence and suicides in several states.


Research has shown that 6,410 U.S. women were killed with a gun by an intimate partner between 2001 and 2012. Chris is a leading supporter of the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act to close loopholes that allow abusers and stalkers to access guns.

This not a new issue for Chris.  In 2000 he met a Maryland mom, Carole Price, who had lost her son, John, to a tragic accidental shooting as he played at a friend’s house.  Together they took on the NRA and passed the Maryland safety trigger lock law – the first built-in trigger lock law in our country. Chris was praised by Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the Million Mom March, and others for his leadership in this fight.



Chris has been a strong voice for women across the world, from encouraging the State Department to include women in peace negotiations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East, to supporting funding for access to education for girls in developing nations.  He is a steadfast opponent of the global gag rule, which would prevent non-governmental organizations receiving federal funds from using their own money to provide women with the full range of reproductive health choices.