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Valerie Young's picture

Funny how when women raise economic issues that have nothing to do with abortion, it still ends up being about abortion.

Readers, gather ’round for a sad, sad story.

The Governor of New York introduced a bill designed to promote women’s security in and out of the workplace called the Women’s Equality Agenda. It actually contained 10 separate proposals, but was treated as a single bill. It tightened up the state’s laws for pay equality and workplace discrimination. It improved remedies for discrimination in employment, credit and lending litigation. It protected human trafficking victims, and protected victims of domestic violence from housing discrimination. Under its provisions, pregnant women  would have the right to a  bathroom break, a water bottle, or a place to sit down at work. Parents of children couldn’t be fired or demoted just because they assumed family responsibilities. It was a thoughtful, well-considered package of efforts that had the support of over 800 statewide organizations, and was the result of tremendous grassroots input and participation.

It also contained a provision that copied the Roe v. Wade decision and would have made it the law of the State. If the Roe decision were ever overturned, New York would still follow its benchmarks and make abortion available along the same parameters. Specifically, the bill allows abortion after 24 weeks to protect the health and life of the mother.

The Governor and supporters of the bill made the strategic decision to introduce and try to pass it as a single piece of legislation. This was successful in the New York General Assembly, which passed the bill unchanged. In the Senate, this strategy failed – state senators approved all of the points EXCEPT the abortion provision. Nine of the points were passed as stand-alone bills.  The Assembly, however, has declined to revisit its action and adopt the piecemeal approach in light of the Senate’s treatment of the bill. So, none of the 10 points will become law.

Catholic opponents of the bill claimed from the beginning that the Governor embedded the abortion provision within the larger bill to hide his primary purpose. The New York Times quoted the representative of a Catholic organization. “That’s what we were saying from day one – that this was just a smoke screen for abortion expansion, and the only reason they were bundled together was for political reasons, which we found unconscionable,” said Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference.  CBS News reports another Catholic opponent of the Governor: “I’m saying this is political suicide. I’m saying that he’s basically aborted his presidential bid,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. “After all, you have a man who is a Catholic, who’s living with a woman outside of wedlock, who is in favor of two men getting married, who now wants to have abortion in the late term.”

So, women will continue to wait in New York, and elsewhere, for pay equity, for protection from their violent partners, from predatory lenders and bankers, and for a chance to live in a safe place. A real chance to reduce sexual harassment and human trafficking, and keep moms and dads at work, is wasted.

“Women’s lives and babies’ lives will be saved as a result of blocking this legislation,” said the Rev. Jason McGuire, of the conservative New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, according to the CBS report.

I wonder.

‘Til next time,

Your (Wo)Man in Washington

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