June 18, 2014 — Editorials in three New York newspapers called for the state's lawmakers to act on the Women's Equality Act before the legislative session ends. The package includes 10 measures covering topics ranging from human trafficking to abortions rights. Lawmakers are divided over whether to individually advance some bills that likely have bicameral support or keep the package intact, despite resistance to the abortion measure in the state Senate.
~ Lower Hudson Journal News: "It is a failure that the Senate has refused a full vote on the Women's Equality Act," but "it would be even worse if the Assembly let the [Trafficking Victims Protections and Justice Act] die, again," a Journal News editorial argues. The editorial explains that the trafficking bill -- one of the 10 measures in the Women's Equality Act -- would increase "protection of people, especially children, who are exploited; [require] stronger penalties for traffickers, including a clear classification of the act as a violent felony"; and "provide trafficking victims with an 'affirmative defense,' meaning that their victimization could be used as a defense against the crime of prostitution." The editorial adds that the other bills in the package "all deserve passage," but "[s]ex trafficking victims ... can't wait for justice and protection" (Lower Hudson Journal News, 6/16).
~ Long Island Newsday: The Women's Equality Act failed last year because "supporters in the Assembly took an all-or-nothing approach, refusing to allow votes on individual proposals," according to a Newsday editorial. With five of the 10 bills approved in the state Senate this year and too few votes in the chamber to pass the abortion-rights measure, "it's time to move forward" and pass the other bills individually, it adds (Long Island Newsday, 6/16).
~ Syracuse Post-Standard: Given the Republican control of the state Senate, "[c]odifying abortion rights ... is not going to happen, especially in an election year," a Post-Standard editorial states. Therefore, it argues, "[t]he pressure is on the Assembly to break off the abortion provision in [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo's [D] 10-point agenda for improving the lives of women," adding that the chamber "should pass the nine other points of the agenda and move on" (Syracuse Post-Standard, 6/17).