The New York State Assembly passed the Women’s Equality Act on Monday, an omnibus bill designed to strengthen women’s rights in 10 different areas.
The Women’s Equality Act codifies Roe v. Wade, ensuring that a woman can get an abortion within 24 weeks of pregnancy, and protects providers from prosecution. It also closes loopholes in equal pay laws, extends protections against sexual harassment to all workplaces, allows the recovery of attorney fees in harassment cases, ends employment discrimination based on whether a woman has children or is pregnant, stops housing discrimination toward victims of domestic violence, and strengthens order of protection laws and human trafficking laws in the state.
Anti-choice opposition to the bill ultimately caused it to fail in the Senate last year, where lawmakers divided the legislation into nine separate bills and dropped the abortion provisions. This year, Assembly Republicans have introduced nine separate bills mirroring the Democrats’ that cover a different area of the act, once more ignoring the abortion provisions. Over 850 organizations and businesses have come together as the NY Women’s Equality Coalition to counter this opposition and support passing the law in full. In June 2013, a poll found that two-thirds of voters support the Women’s Equality Act, including the abortion provision.
“All of these issues are related,” NOW NYC President Sonia Ossorio told RH Reality Check. “A woman’s reproductive rights are just as related to how she can care for her family as discrimination in the workplace. Connecting the dots on women’s equality is important.” She was echoed by M. Tracey Brooks, president and CEO of Family Planning Advocates. “Family planning makes sense,” Brooks told Legislative Gazette. “We’re going to fight for all provisions in the Women’s Equality Agenda, especially the abortion provision.”
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 1/29/2014; Legislative Gazette 1/27/2014; Feminist Newswire 6/6/2013; NY Women’s Equality Coalition