NY women's rights agenda gets final shot Friday
ALBANY — A series of bills that would protect women's rights at work, at home and when they face domestic violence could soon be approved by New York's Legislature.
The Senate is scheduled to take up 10 separate bills Friday, an extra day that is scheduled to be the final one of a contentious 2013 legislative session.
In addition to addressing discrimination in the work place and in housing, some of the measures would strengthen laws against domestic violence and prostitution.
The controversial proposal to strengthen the right to late abortions is being blocked from a vote by Senate Republicans. But Democrats could attempt a "hostile amendment" to force the measure to a floor vote that would be uncomfortable for many members.
Senate Democrats, however, also have been at odds over the abortion issue, even though the vast majority of them support abortions rights.
Even if the abortion bill hits the floor, there appears to be too few votes to pass it unless Republicans join in. The Assembly passed all 10 measures in one bill 97-47 after nearly four hours of impassioned debate on Thursday.
"The Assembly had the courage to stand up on behalf of the women of New York, and now the Senate must do the same," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed the women's rights bills. "Each and every part of the Women's Equality Act is vitally important to the future of women in our state, and New Yorkers deserve to know where all their elected representatives stand on all of them."
Abortion rights supporters and opponents have been ringing the Capitol's halls for days.
"The Senate must vote on all 10 points of WEA and stop playing political games with women's lives," said NOW-NYC President Sonia Ossorio. "It's democracy plain and simple: New Yorkers have a right to know if their elected officials are pro-choice or not."
Opponents, including the state Conservative Party that is influential in Republican politics, also have been active.
"We will be informing our 63,000-member Catholic Action Network of the votes of each and every one of the members, for and against the expansion of abortion in New York, the abortion capital of the United States of America," said Richard Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents state's Catholic Bishops.