Lilly Ledbetter was the plaintiff in the employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (Pub.L. 111-2, S. 181) was named after her and was the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009. The Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action.
Equal pay for women and the Fair Pay Act were discussed during the presidential debate Tuesday night, leading to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's infamous "binders full of women" comment.
Ledbetter was interviewed by MSNBC's Chris Matthews on his Hardball program about Romney's views. Matthews raised a number of issues, such as the Republican party platform that criminalizes abortion and says that the fetus has the right under the 14th Amendment to personhood — to life, liberty, and property. Romney has said that he would abolish the Affordable Care Act and eliminate Planned Parenthood. Romney has also said that he supports the Blunt Amendment, which would allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage for women for their moral or religious reasons.
"He's scaring me to death. It scares me for my family, my neighbors, and all the people across this nation because if he's elected and these crazy ideals are implemented, I don't know where we common people will end up," Ledbetter remarked to Matthews. "It is so scary, Chris, for where we are headed. And these are not even commonsense thinking ideals about what he wants to do. I don't, and would not, want an employer of mine to decide what I can do with my body or my birth control or what medications I can take. I just want my equal pay for equal work at work, and then I do not want and do not believe that abortion is killing someone … most of those are done to save a woman's life."
Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, voted against the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Romney has given conflicting remarks but has not definitively said that he supports it. "It takes two people to earn a living. I don't think Mitt Romney is ever going to bring himself to commit, [say] yes, the Ledbetter bill is going to stay on the books," Ledbetter opined.
On the issue of abortion and contraceptives, the Romney campaign is airing an ad in Virginia and Washington DC suburbs that claims the candidate does not oppose contraception and that he approves abortion in cases of rape or if a woman's life is in danger. However, last year, Romney endorsed Mississippi's Amendment 26 – a personhood bill with the potential of banning some forms of birth control — in an interview with Mike Huckabee. The personhood amendment, which would have given constitutional rights to zygotes, was rejected by Mississippi's largely Christian conservative voters. Romney has chosen Robert Bork to help him select Supreme Court justices. Bork, according to a People for the American Way report, believes that politicians should be able to outlaw birth control, believes that Constitution's promise of equal protection does not apply to women and that corporations can tell women that they must be sterilized or else get fired from their jobs.
The Obama campaign is running a counter ad, showing Romney saying that he would be "delighted" to sign a bill banning abortion.