Maine Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows today announced the endorsements of Feminist Majority and NOW PAC, the National Organization for Women political action committee. The newly announced support is a major boost to Bellows’ campaign and represents the latest in a series of high-profile endorsements.

Bellows was a leader in the Maine Choice Coalition and the Coalition for Maine Women and worked to guarantee women’s equal legal treatment as head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine from 2005 to 2013. She has been recognized for her work to advance women’s health and reproductive choice with awards from the University of Maine Women’s Studies Department, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, the American Association of University Women, the Frances Perkins Center and the Maine Democratic Party.

Bellows’ opponent, Republican Susan Collins, voted in 2012 for the so-called Blunt Amendment, a measure that would have allowed any private employer that claimed a moral objection — regardless of its size — to ignore the Affordable Care Act’s birth control coverage mandate for female employees. The recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision allowed only privately held corporations, which account for approximately 90 percent of U.S. companies, to deny birth control coverage. Bellows traveled to Washington, D.C., in March to rally with women’s groups outside the Court and encourage a ruling that protected women’s health and liberty.

Collins also voted in 2012 to filibuster the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have required employers to show that wage differences between men and women are related to job performance rather than gender and would have protected employees from retaliation for sharing salary information. The bill aimed to help close the pay gap between men and women, who still get paid on average 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid. As MSNBC described the vote at the time, “The GOP opposition was as unanimous as it was unyielding[.]”

“I am proud to receive the endorsement of two of the country’s leading organizations for women because I will always stand up for women,” Bellows said. “Unlike my opponent, I fully support equal pay for equal work and reproductive freedom without exceptions. The Hobby Lobby case was a huge setback for women and shows how important it is to elect strong, pro-choice Democratic women who will fight Republican attacks on reproductive freedom. If Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate this year, attacks on women will only get worse. We are fighting for the future of our daughters and granddaughters”

“Shenna Bellows is one of the country’s best candidates for women’s rights this year, and the Feminist Majority PAC is very proud to announce our support,” said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, who has worked for decades to advance women’s equality and economic empowerment. “Her call for a fair living wage, her unqualified backing for reproductive justice, and her support of pay equity for women — to name just a few — set her apart from her opponent. Shenna’s hard work and experience fighting for women’s rights are invaluable. She is what the future of feminist politics looks like. Sen. Susan Collins’ votes for the Blunt Amendment and against the Paycheck Fairness Act are just a few reasons women’s rights supporters can’t wait to cast their votes for Shenna in November and work with her as Maine’s next senator.”

“The choice between Shenna Bellows and Sen. Susan Collins couldn’t be clearer for women this year,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women and chair of NOW PAC. “Shenna supports women economically, whether they’re in school, working or retired. Sen. Collins votes against paycheck fairness and for Republican austerity measures that make student loans harder to pay, living wages harder to attain and Social Security less secure. Shenna supports reproductive justice without qualifications. Sen. Collins votes for the Blunt Amendment and won’t stand up to Mitch McConnell on too many issues important to women. Shenna is exactly the kind of person the women of Maine and our country need this year, and we’re excited to help her win this election.”

NOW has more than 500,000 contributing members and more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Feminist Majority has been a leader on women’s health and legal rights since its founding in 1987 and helped pass the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and many other landmark advances for women across the country.

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