June 25, 2013 — Disputes over an abortion-rights provision and legislative strategy ultimately doomed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) 10-point Women's Equality Act, which failed to pass before lawmakers ended their session over the weekend, the New York Times reports.
The state Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, approved the entire package, including the abortion provision. Although nine of the proposals passed the state Senate, an effort to attach the abortion language to a separate bill on medical records failed by one vote.
Up until a few days before the end of session, Cuomo, women's rights advocates and other Democratic officials insisted they would only settle for approval of the entire 10-point package, even if dropping the abortion provision would have allowed the other nine measures to pass.
However, on Friday, Cuomo and some advocates said they were comfortable with accepting a "partial victory," the Times reports. Meanwhile, some groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice New York, remained steadfast that nothing less than the full package would be acceptable.
Now, some advocates are calling for the Legislature to return to approve the non-abortion provisions of the Women's Equality Act and potentially pass the abortion measure at a later time.
Donna Liberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said, "The bottom line is the other nine points provide important protections for women in the workplace and in the community," adding, "[I]t's a disappointment that with such broad support, and such bipartisan support, those have yet to become law" (Kaplan, New York Times, 6/23).
New York Times Editorial Reacts to Failure of Women's Equality Legislation
A New York Times editorial bemoans the failure of the Women's Equality Act, including the abortion-rights provisions. "With too many misguided governors and legislators around the country trying to deny women the freedom to have an abortion, New York State was supposed to be a shining example of a government that cares about a woman's right to choose," it states.
The editorial notes that the bill's failure not only deprived women of the abortion-rights provisions but also of new protections against human trafficking, domestic violence and pay discrimination. "Women of New York deserve better," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 6/24).