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N.Y. Women's Equality Act Fails as Session Ends

N.Y. Women's Equality Act Fails as Session Ends

June 24, 2014 — The New York Legislature ended its session last week without passing a 10-bill package known as the Women's Equality Act for the second year in a row, the Albany Legislative Gazette reports (Nesich, Albany Legislative Gazette, 6/20).

Last year, the state Senate passed every bill in the package except an abortion-rights measure. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) refused to consider the package without the abortion measure. Democrats reintroduced the package this spring (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/12). However, many state senators again objected to the abortion-rights provision and wanted the state Assembly to vote on the other bills separately, while Assembly leaders called on the Senate to vote on all 10 bills at once.

The state Senate last week passed some bills from the 10-point package, including measures that would have addressed employment and housing discrimination, equal pay, and sexual harassment (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/19). According to the Legislative Gazette, some lawmakers and lobbyists made "last-ditch efforts" to coax lawmakers' votes.

However, Assembly Democrats refused to consider the Women's Equality Act without all 10 bills.

Reaction

Family Planning Advocates of New York State President and CEO Tracey Brooks, said opponents who refused to pass the entire Women's Equality Act because of the abortion-rights measure "mischaracterize[d] the legislation" and "refuse to acknowledge that women and their doctors must be able to make critical medical decisions and not be put at risk by politicians."

The National Organization of Women-New York has called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to pass the WEA as an executive order, according to the Legislative Gazette.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Gallagher of the New York State Catholic Conference said the conference is supportive of some of the parts of the Women's Equality Act and disappointed that some of the measures were "being held up over politics" (Albany Legislative Gazette, 6/20).