Portions of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act will be among the first bills passed by the state Senate in 2015, but the chamber won’t be taking up a provision that would bolster the state’s abortion law.
The Senate’s Republican leadership announced it would vote on eight planks of the much-debated legislation Monday evening, which would strengthen the state’s penalties for human trafficking and sexual harassment while enacting an equal-pay law, among other provisions.
But the GOP won’t allow a vote on the most controversial provision of Cuomo’s bill, which would alter the state’s abortion laws to take it out of the state’s penal code and formally recognize federal Roe v. Wade rights.
The act was the subject of extensive debate in closely contested Senate races across the state. Republicans in the Senate have refused to vote on the abortion provision, while the Assembly’s Democratic leadership has refused to allow a vote on a bill that separates it out.
“It is a new year and time to put progress over politics by passing effective measures that provide women with the protections they need and the opportunities they deserve,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said in a statement. “The Senate is making the passing of these bills an immediate priority because women need the politics to end so that New York can enact a Women’s Equality Agenda without further delay.”
Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, dismissed the Republicans’ announcement as a “political ploy.” Cuomo first introduced the Women’s Equality Act in 2013, and it has languished as part of the legislative stalemate since.
“To once again reject the full Women’s Equality Act is deeply disturbing,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “Let us remember that the final point is simply codifying current federal law into New York State law and saying anything to the contrary is a deliberate distraction from their extremist anti-choice views.”
Cuomo’s bill originally included 10 points. A version of one of the measures related to penalties for domestic violence has already been signed into law.