Women discuss access to mental health, economic barriers during roundtable with Rep. Lee

Nevada Current by Michael Lyle
July 26, 2022

The 2022 election is about “electing someone who is going to stand up,” for women, U.S. Rep. Susie Lee said Monday at a roundtable centered around Southern Nevada moms.

“I think women in this country are very fearful,” Lee said. 

Lee, a two-term Democrat who is seeking a third term, said she hosted the event in order to hear pressing issues ahead of the 2022 general election, where she will face Republican April Becker, a real estate attorney who lost a bid for state Senate in 2020. 

That fear has much to do with the Supreme Court’s June decision to reverse Roe v. Wade and gut federal abortion protections, which left the decision of abortion access up to state. But fear is also being fed by rising costs of groceries, child care and housing.

Republicans, including Becker, have hammered Democrats on rising inflation and skyrocketing gas prices, which have declined in recent weeks but remain well above usual levels. 

In an interview after the roundtable, Lee pushed back on Republicans who talk about inflation but don’t support legislation she said could help lower costs. 

“I sort of chuckle when Republicans wanna talk about inflation because it’s actually Democrats that have moved legislation and passed legislation that will bring down costs for American families and it’s Republicans who block it at every step of the way,” Lee said.

She pointed to legislation the House passed, including legislation to address food and gas costs, a bill capping out-of-pocket costs of insulin at $35 a month, and a measure to send $28 million to the Food and Drug Administration to boost formula supply during the shortage. 

Only a few Republicans voted in favor of each legislation in the House. Every bill Lee referenced is stalled in the Senate in the face of Republican filibuster. 

Becker, who released an ad in April using a theme used by various Republican candidates showing them pumping gas, has also attacked Lee on inflation. 

“Democrats fighting inflation?” Becker said in a June tweet. “Give me a break. Remember when they told us it was all transitory, then it was actually good, then they wouldn’t apologize for it, then Putin caused it, now she’s fighting it.”

Nevada Current asked Becker’s campaign how she plans to deal with inflation if elected as well as questions about what legislation she would propose or support that addresses child care costs, lack of housing supply and federal paid leave – policies referenced by the women during the roundtable that Lee has supported

The campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

During the roundtable, women shared stories of coping with suicidal thoughts after miscarriages and struggling to find mental health services. 

Several spoke about having adult-age children who had either completed or were still finishing college but were forced to move back home because of low wages and crippling student loan debt.

Others talked about the challenges of finding affordable child care and being forced to choose between staying home or re-entering the workforce and paying tens of thousands of dollars each year in child care. 

Andrea Goeglein, one of the women who attended the event, said people don’t understand how economic issues and mental health are connected to the conversation about reproductive rights. 

“The complexity of what it takes to live today and what it takes to take care of our children today, there is something about the way we are telling the story that’s not serving us,” she said.   

Access to reproductive rights has become central to Lee’s campaign following the Supreme Court’s ruling. 

Lee, along with other Democrats heading into the general election, warned voters that if the Republicans retake Congress they will work to pass a nationwide abortion ban. 

On her campaign website, Becker said she is “pro-life, with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.”

Lee told the roundtable the attempted insurrection on Jan. 6 and access to reproductive care “are fundamentally linked.”

“I believe my fight for access to choice is related to this and the fight to preserve our democracy,” Lee said. “When you see democracy starting to fail, the first thing that goes is women’s rights.”