Women rank gun laws, maternal health as top policy priorities

A majority of women agree: passing laws that prevent people who have committed domestic violence from having a gun is a top policy priority.

Across party lines, 56% of women agreed on this top priority, according to a survey of 3,661 women and 1,144 men by the Kaiser Family Foundation that asked about seven policy issues. Among men, only 40% agreed that gun laws are a top policy priority.


The survey, which is conducted every four years, sheds light on what women in America consider important as Democrats take over the White House and Congress. Under the Biden-Harris administration, women’s healthcare issues are likely to take a more central feature in policy priorities. Already, President Joe Biden has undone several of the healthcare policies put in place by Donald Trump that were harmful to women.


However, there is still a lot of work to improve women’s healthcare in the U.S., particularly for Black women.


“Most people are unaware that Black women are more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than White women,” the survey reads.


In fact, Black, American Indian and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die in childbirth in the U.S. compared to white women, according to the CDC. Worse, Black women are more than 5 times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than white women.


It’s not surprising then that 61% of Black women in the survey named allowing women to stay on Medicaid for a year after childbirth as their No. 1 issue. Medicaid, which covers more than 40% of births in the U.S., currently only allows women to keep healthcare coverage under the federal program for 60 days after delivery.


About one-third of pregnancy-related deaths happen up to a year after delivery, meaning extending coverage could save lives. The issue is already on the radar of doctors and pediatricians, and the Biden administration campaigned on improving maternal health for Black women. Extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months post-partum is already a policy proposal in Congress, while the Biden administration may decide to allow states to apply for waivers to add the benefit themselves.


When it comes to paid time off after birthing or adopting a child, under half of women (46%) said offering paid maternity leave should be a top priority. However, that may have something to do with a lack of understanding around this issue, as less than one-third of women said they knew the U.S. doesn’t have a national policy on paid leave.


The clearest split along party lines in the survey came down to abortion rights, with 63% of Republican women saying a national law requiring states to keep abortion legal is not too important. In comparison, 54% of Democratic women ranked it as a top priority, according to KFF.