Yesterday the New York State Assembly passed the Women’s Equality Act, and now all eyes are on the state Senate. The bill has seen overwhelming public approval, with 81% of New Yorkers and more than 851 organizations and groups throughout the state in support of it. The Women’s Equality Act is a 10-point plan aimed at expanding legal rights for women, protecting their existing rights, and improving their quality of life, but its abortion clause has become a point of contention.
Even though the Assembly passed WEA by a wide margin, this fact may make little difference to what happens on the Senate floor. The bill's abortion proposal would protect late-term abortions past 24 weeks in New York state, and allow any health care provider to perform abortions.
Media outlets are claiming the clause is controversial, but the bill is actually designed to align state law with federal law. It would move abortion from criminal code to public health, and regulate it the way other medical procedures are regulated. It would also allow for abortions in the rare and tragic circumstance of a woman’s health being jeopardized later in her pregnancy, an issue which has recently come to light on a global level. The problematic (and also incorrect) view that late-term abortions are commonplace or frivolous has been widely debunked recently. The New York Times has explored what happens to women who are denied abortions, and RH Reality Check covers recent extreme anti-abortion legislation, which denies late-term abortions even if the fetus is non-viable (and the technology to detect non-viable fetuses is often only available after the 20-week mark).
From the NY Women’s Equality Act site, the 10 points are:
1. Protect reproductive health and choice
2. Achieve pay equity (Women in New York make just 84% of what their male peers are paid.)
3. Stop sexual harassment in all workplaces
4. Allow for attorneys’ fees in employment, lending and credit discrimination cases
5. Strengthen human-trafficking laws
6. End family status discrimination
7. Stop source-of-income discrimination
8. Stop housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence
9. Stop pregnancy discrimination once and for all
10. Protect victims of domestic violence by strengthening order-of-protection laws
Want to help get the bill passed? If you live in New York, call your senator today at (518) 455-2800 and ask them to support the full Women's Equality Act.