New York State Assembly Passes Omnibus Women's Equality Act
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
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. . . .