NY Women Rally for Pregnancy Discrimination Protections
The New York Women's Equality Coalition rallied yesterday morning on the steps of New York City's city hall to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the recent passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act by the New York City Council. They also called on state legislators to take action to ensure that the New York Women's Equality Agenda - which contains an important measure to strengthen pregnancy discrimination protections - does not die on December 31, 2013.
Protections for pregnant women are vitally important. Almost two-thirds of first-time mothers work while pregnant, and 90 percent of those women continue to work into their last two months of pregnancy. Low-income women and women of color are more likely to be affected by pregnancy discrimination, because they are more likely to hold low-paying jobs with limited flexibility.
A recent report by the National Women's Law Center showed how pregnant women are often fired or forced to take unpaid leave from jobs because employers fail to make reasonable accommodations that they would make for other workers.
"Women make up almost half of the labor force, but all too often they are forced to make an impossible choice: risk their own health and pregnancy to keep a job or lose their income at the moment they can least afford it," said NWLC Vice President and General Counsel Emily Martin. "Pregnant workers are ready, willing and able to continue working but they are often forced out by employers who refuse to make minor accommodations. These women and their families pay a steep price when they're pushed out of jobs. There's no reason for pregnancy to be a job-buster."
Currently only a handful of states provide protections for pregnant workers. A federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was reintroduced in Congress last May.
Media Resources: New York Women's Equality Coalition 10/29/13; Feminist Newswire 5/15/13, 10/2/13; New York State Governor; National Organization for Women NYC 10/29/13; National Women's Law Center 6/18/13
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .