June 5, 2013 —
ALBANY, NY — One of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s priorities this year has been the passage of his Womens’ Equality Act (WEA). The act, which has a 10-point agenda, contains language on abortion that was introduced by Cuomo on June 1, and codifies the Roe V. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court into New York State law.
On June 4, Cuomo published an article on www.huffing  tonpost.com, explaining his bill which said, “Contrary to the opposition’s assertion, this language in no way expands abortion rights but only codifies federal law. This is important because the Supreme Court could change in composition, or opinion, and New York works to protect women’s right to choose.”
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said he will not vote for the act because of the abortion issue. According to multiple reports, Skelos and other Republicans consider the proposed abortion language unnecessary, and have been concerned that Cuomo’s bill would expand access to late-term abortions.
After the bill was unveiled, the Reverend Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said, “the proposed Women’s Equality Act does indeed include late-term abortion expansion language.”
On May 30, the New York Civil Liberties Union identified Senator John Bonacic as having a key vote and perhaps ensuring passage if he votes in favor of the act. Donna Lieberman, the executive director, sent an email to residents in Bonacic’s district that said, “Your senator has yet to decide how to vote. You can make the difference. Contact Senator Bonacic today and tell him to vote YES on the Women’s Equality Agenda.”
On June 4, before the unveiling of the bill, Bonacic’s spokesperson Jessica M. Cherry, Esq. sent a statement in response to a request for comment. It said, “Senator Bonacic wrote the Women’s Health and Wellness Act—one of, if not the most comprehensive women’s healthcare law in the nation. In fact, it has been recognized as one of the most important women’s laws in the state in decades.
“The flyer you emailed is just that—a flyer with a slogan. Governor Cuomo has yet to release any proposed legislation on his much-discussed Women’s Equality Act. That said, issues such as ending wage discrimination, expanding protections for sexual harassment, better protections against housing and employment discrimination, helping eliminate human trafficking and fair lending practices are very sensible and Senator Bonacic strongly supports them.
“As a professional woman—from Eldred, myself—what I, and I think most women, hope, is that those important issues are not lumped in with efforts to allow extreme late-term abortion practices, thus putting a political poison pill in just to sink the rest of those issues and create a political issue. Stopping wage and housing discrimination and stopping sexual harassment matters to women all over our state, far more than expanding ultra-late term abortions in New York.”
Cuomo has been working hard over the past few months to promote the act as well as other progressive causes. In remarks at the Yale Club on May 6, he said, “With all our sophistication and all our education and all our wealth, in the greatest city in the greatest state on the planet, we still discriminate against women.
“You’d be hard pressed to go back and find any great social, progressive movement in this country that wasn’t birthed in this state. The environmental movement started here at Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River. Workers’ rights came out of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire... NAACP birthed here; gay rights movement started at the Stonewall; women’s rights, Seneca Falls; obviously, we started it here.”
But, Cuomo said, “We lost our way somewhat over the past few decades.”
Cuomo’s proposed legislation is being supported by the New York Women’s Equality Coalition, which according to the organization’s website “is comprised of more than 800 labor groups, businesses, religious groups and women’s organizations united in vigorous support of the Women’s Equality Agenda.”