Preserving Women's Rights
Women must be treated equally, their rights must be protected, and they must have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions, period.
Joel received a 100% Rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC, the only statewide, bi-partisan Political Action Committee working solely to protect each childbearing individual’s right to choose in Maryland. His answers to their questionnaire are printed below:
What type of policies and/or legislation would you introduce, or would you like to see introduced, to enhance reproductive health, rights, and justice in Maryland?
First and foremost, I would introduce legislation to clear the rape kit backlog so that we are not further victimizing survivors of violence.
Second, I would like to go on offense and attack the anti-choice legislation being proposed and implemented in other states, by introducing legislation in Maryland that would directly counter such legislation, thereby forming the basis for legal challenges against the other states’ legislation.
Third, I will fight for equality in our public education system. As the father of three young girls in the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system, this issue is personal to me. And as a former Peace Corps Volunteer who worked on women’s economic development and empowerment activities, I understand how essential it is to include women equally in our economy. I will therefore promote programs that encourage girls to pursue opportunities in fields traditionally dominated by men, such as the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. We must build equality from the ground-up, so that it is sustainable and effective over the long term.
Without considering politics or finances, please describe the ideal reproductive health care landscape in Maryland?
The ideal reproductive landscape in Maryland is one where everyone has an absolute right to maintain their health and quality of life in a manner that is aligned with their personal belief system. I also believe that it is the responsibility of all of us to educate our children - especially girls - on reproductive justice, so that they can take charge of their well-being. And I believe that it is the role of the state to defend that right. Our state’s reproductive landscape must be one that empowers women to chart their own path, and that defends them when someone tries to knock them off of it.
Please list examples where you have shown leadership on pro-choice issues.
I have spent years working for gender equity - both at a grassroots level in the Peace Corps and as a government official at the U.S. Department of State. My proactive approach towards working effectively in support of women is why I have been endorsed by leading local and national female politicians, such as Mary Flynn, the Mayor of the Town of Chevy Chase, and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, a long-time fighter for women’s empowerment.
My work on women’s empowerment has been in the real world, where I’ve directly collaborated with women on productive work activities. First, I worked for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica with women’s agricultural groups on business planning and marketing, helping them to both move products to market and to become, as a result, political leaders in their communities. Second, while serving at State Department, I created a program that trained, supported, and networked business women from 16 Middle Eastern and North African countries. The result was the creation of a powerful network of more than 20,000 women entrepreneurs in a region not known for women’s empowerment.
While I have not yet written legislation in support of choice issues directly, I did draft one piece of legislation while working as a staffer in the U.S. Senate that protected military health care benefits through the TRICARE program. This program benefitted women’s health, and for my efforts, the Military Officers Association of America conferred on me their “Congressional Staffer of the Year” Award. With your support, I hope to bring this combination of real-world engagement on women’s issues and legislative acumen to Annapolis, to advance women’s reproductive health for all the women of Maryland.