The New York State Senate, including Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver, approved eight parts of the Women’s Equality Act on Monday, although a controversial abortion plank was left off the docket, the Times Union said.
The act is based on a plan by Gov. Andrew Cuomo meant to ensure women’s full participation in society and protect their health and well-being.
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The bills now head to the Assembly, where the Democratic majority is still holding out for passage of an omnibus bill that includes legislation codifying the Roe v. Wade decision into state law, the report said.
Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, has been a topic of intense debate for decades.
The Senate voted 62-0 on all eight bills, which include measures adding tools to fight human trafficking, assuring equal pay for equal work, curbing sexual harassment in the workplace and enhancing accommodations for pregnant workers and protections for domestic violence victims, the Times Union said.
Members of the Senate’s Republican majority berated Assembly Democrats for not passing the piecemeal bills in the past two legislative sessions, the report said.
It wasn’t a surprise that the abortion plank, which the Senate GOP and anti-abortion groups have cast as “abortion expansion, ” did not make it to the floor. The GOP won’t allow a vote on the most controversial provision of Cuomo’s bill.
“I think what’s important here is our conference will take up the issues, and what’s really important is to pass all 10 points, ” Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver said just before the Senate votes were cast. “A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental right, and the Senate so far has not shown any (inclination) toward that.”
“Until the Senate decides that a women’s right to choose is part of a women’s agenda, I’m not sure that we’re going to have matching bills. Our conference will take up the issues as needed, ” he added.
In the Senate chambers, some GOP members fired back at Silver, the Times Union said.
“The question I have, and it’s a rhetorical question, is why is not every senator in this chamber yelling, demanding of Sheldon Silver and the Assembly…to pass these same bills?” state Sen. John Bonacic said. “How can anyone that is in the leadership of Sheldon Silver, and Sheldon Silver himself, say he’s for women’s rights and not pass these eight bills?”