May 21, 2014 — New York Senate Democrats on Tuesday reintroduced a package of 10 bills, together called the Women's Equality Act, that was derailed last year amid GOP resistance to an abortion provision, the AP/Staten Island Advance reports.
The bills cover issues including human trafficking, reproductive rights, sexual harassment, pay equity and protective orders for women. Supporters said an abortion measure in the package would bring state law in line with the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, according to the AP/Advance (AP/Staten Island Advance, 5/20).
Supporters Want Full Package Passed
State Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the group is committed to passing all of the 10 bills as a package instead of considering them separately (Hupfl, Poughkeepsie Journal, 5/20). Last year, the state Senate passed every measure in the package except the abortion bill, and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to consider the package without the abortion measure (AP/Staten Island Advance, 5/20).
Women's rights advocates also called for this year's bills to be passed as a package. NARAL Pro-Choice New York spokesperson Christie Petrone said, "We shouldn't be forced to ask, 'Which rights should we protect this year?' or 'In which areas of life can women wait to be equal?' A woman's rights, safety and equality aren't up for negotiation" (Poughkeepsie Journal, 5/20).
Supporters of abortion measure have said the state's abortion laws should match federal law in case federal measures are struck down. They added that the bill would not change how abortion is practiced in the state.
However, a spokesperson for the state Senate Republican Conference claimed the abortion bill would permit individuals who are not physicians to perform abortions up until birth (AP/Staten Island Advance, 5/20).