Assembly Passes Women's Equality Act

11:51 AM, Jun 21, 2013   |    comments
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Albany, NY - Thursday, the New York State Assembly passed the Women's Equality Act, including its controversial abortion component, and its fate now lies in the hands of the NYS Senate.

That fate is uncertain though since the Senate is expected to debate its ten points separately.

State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin is frustrated. While she supports most of the Women's Equality Act, she voted against it Thursday.

"We have nine important issues that we all agree on, and they're not going to get passed because the Speaker's insisting that we keep the abortion piece as part of it," said Corwin.

Even without Corwin's vote, the Assembly passed the bill in its entirety by a wide margin. That, however, might not mean much since Senate Republicans plan on debating and passing everything except the abortion component Friday.

Supporters say the abortion provision brings state law in line with federal law when it comes to late-term abortions to save the life of the mother.

Opponents say it would expand late-term abortions.

"It's very frustrating for me because we have an opportunity to make changes to improve on issues like domestic violence, but we're going to throw those away because of the abortion issue," says Corwin.

The rest of the Women's Equality Act aims to do things like strengthen equal pay laws, human trafficking laws and protect domestic violence victims. There is also a sexual harassment part to expand the number of businesses that fall under the state's sexual harassment laws.

Thursday, Corwin and other lawmakers expressed concerns that that portion of the bill does not address sexual harassment policies in state government, which has seen its share of harassment scandals recently.

"I can't believe that after everything this Assembly has gone through in the last three months, that there isn't something substantial in this bill addressing sexual harassment. And, there isn't, and that is maddening," she says.

If the Senate passes its own version of the bill, the Assembly would have to take it up, debate and pass that all before the end of session Friday. Speaker Sheldon Silver hasn't said whether the Assembly will do that, meaning even the parts of the law both sides of the aisle agree on may have to wait until next session to become law.

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