New York Assembly Votes for Abortion Expansion

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Yesterday afternoon, the New York State assembly passed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, which includes the Reproductive Health Act, which would expand abortion access in the state. The vote was 80-36.

This bill as it is is a disaster for women, for children, for families, for human dignity, and it doubles down on a culture of death in a state with the city that has been dubbed the abortion capital of the country.

Andrew Cuomo recently expressed his desire that pro-lifers leave the state and the new mayor of that abortion capital, New York City, agreed.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis pushed back, proposing, along with colleagues, a series of stand-alone bills, with actual debate on details.

From her press release, issued before the assembly vote:

Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn, Staten Island) and Joe Borelli (R,C,I-South Shore) today joined members of the Assembly Minority Conference to introduce nine individual pieces of legislation that promote and advance critical components of the New York State Women’s Equality Agenda. The Women’s Equality Act was proposed in 2013, but failed to become law after the two houses of the legislature could not reach an agreement.

“Last year, the Assembly Majority put all 10 pieces of legislation in an omnibus bill that was doomed to fail. Unfortunately, this meant the session ended and New York’s women came up empty again in their quest for equality,” said Malliotakis. “With the Senate continuing to lack the necessary votes to pass the 10th piece of the agenda – the abortion expansion legislation – it is absolutely critical that we vote on each of the nine other pieces individually so that the governor may sign this landmark legislation.  We cannot let politics get in the way again this year. The Majority’s actions today have once again set up the Women’s Equality Agenda for failure, by bringing one omnibus bill to the floor- knowing the Senate has already indicated it will not take it up. The Senate has already passed the nine points and now it’s up to the Assembly Majority to pass the first nine so New York’s women don’t go home empty handed again this year.”

In 2013, Gov. Cuomo introduced the Women’s Equality Act and called for separate provisions to be brought to the floors of each chamber. The Senate introduced and passed nine separate women’s equality bills. However, the Assembly Majority introduced a single bill – eliminating any chance for measures to be enacted in 2013. 

The nine bills introduced today by members of the Assembly Minority Conference were passed in the Senate last year, and must pass both houses in 2014 to become law. They include:

· Prohibiting Housing Discrimination – S.5876 – Prohibits housing discrimination based upon a person’s status as a domestic violence victim and establishes a task force to study the impact of source of income upon access to housing. Sponsor: Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn, Staten Island)

· Attorney’s Fees In Discrimination Cases – S.5874 – Awards attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in housing, credit and employment discrimination where the discrimination was done on the basis of sex. Sponsor: Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R,C,I-South Shore)

· Pay Equity – S.5872 – Enacts pay equity provisions designed to strengthen equal pay protections for women in the workplace. Sponsor: Assemblyman John Ceretto (R,C,I-Lewiston)

· Sexual Harassment – S.5873 – Applies sexual harassment protections in the law to all organizations of any size. Sponsor: Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R,C,I-Clarence)

· Familial Status Discrimination – S.5875 – Adds familial status to the list of classes protected and covered by the Human Rights Law. Sponsor: Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Melrose)

· Restraining Orders – S.5877 – Specifies that the protected party in whose favor an order of protection or temporary order of protection is issued may not be held to violate that order. Sponsor: Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R,C,WF,I-Huntington Station)

· Electronic Hearings for Temporary Restraining Orders – S.5878 – Authorizes the establishment of a pilot program for the filing of petitions for temporary orders of protection by electronic means. Sponsor: Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)

· Human Trafficking – S.5879 – Enacts the Human Trafficking Victims Protection & Justice Act, creating new crimes, strengthening penalties and protecting victims. Sponsor: Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford)

· Pregnancy-Related Employment Accommodations – S.5880 – Classifies pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions as temporary disabilities as defined within the Human Rights Law. Sponsor: Assemblyman Ray Walter (R,C,I-Amherst)

The nine bills have been submitted to the Assembly index clerk and will be sent to various committees for consideration before moving to the floor for a vote.

The assembly’s move showed both a reckless disregard for human life and dignity and irresponsible legislating. Know what you’re voting on. Look your constituents in the eye and be willing to defend it. At least Andrew Cuomo gets points for honesty: He wants pro-lifers to go away. But it’s not just pro-lifers who oppose his abortion-expansion agenda. As with the HHS abortion-drug, contraception, and sterilization mandate that infringes on religious liberty, ramming it through and hoping no one pays attention to the details is a winning strategy. It’s also dishonest. And not who we are.

Most New Yorkers aren’t proud of the state of abortion in the state, and like most Americans, welcome restrictions (protecting both women and children), not expansion.

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