Women’s rights advocates gathered at the Capitol today to renew their call for state legislators to pass the Women’s Equality Act.
Family Planning Advocates of NYS, Planned Parenthood Advocates of NY, along with state legislators spoke about the importance of passing the 10-point Women’s Equality Act, including the provision that strengthens abortion rights in New York, Gannett’s Ashley Hupfl reported today.
“We are going to first fight for family planning funding, we are going to pass all provisions of the Women’s Equality Agenda, especially the abortion provision, are you with me?” asked M. Tracey Brooks, president of Family Planning Advocates of NY, to the crowd of more than 100 people.
Advocates spent the day in conferences and meeting state legislators to lobby for a vote for the Women’s Equality Act. This is the 36th annual day of action that Family Planning Advocates of NY have held in Albany.
“Whether it’s preserving the core family services, working to ensure access to reproductive health services, ensuring that we keep an emphasis on education for our young people, all of this is very, very smart besides being the right thing to do,” state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced the Women’s Equality Act at his 2013 State of the State address. The 10-point agenda includes some provisions that would increase human trafficking penalties and require equal pay for equal work for women, along the much debated abortion rights provision.
In 2013, the Women’s Equality Act passed in the state Assembly, but failed to pass in the state Senate because of opposition to the 10th point, the provision that would strengthen abortion rights.
While speaking to advocates, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan announced the Assembly would vote and pass the Women’s Equality Act on Monday afternoon.
“We in the people’s house live up to our promise to shield women on the scorn of domestic violence and protect and defend a woman’s right to choose,” Silver said.
Silver said that because it is an election year, state Senate Republicans would feel pressure to pass the Women’s Equality Act.
“Hopefully in this session, people will understand that if we don’t do all 10 points, then we won’t have a bill,” Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, D-Yonkers said. “The Assembly has passed all 10 points, we’ve only passed nine and the reality is all of these issues are important to women, there’s nothing wrong, obviously, with codifying what the federal government allows in terms of women’s choice and reproductive rights, so there’s no reason to sever that piece,”
Senate Republicans have said they are focused on economic issues.
“This year, let’s pass an agenda as good as our people while keeping the focus on their priorities – – cutting taxes, creating new jobs and balancing our budget for the future,” Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said Jan. 8 after Cuomo’s State of the State address.