News & Politics

Time Is Running Out For NY Lawmakers To Guarantee Basic Women’s Rights

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Wednesday is the final day of New York’s legislative session, and lawmakers are making their final pushes to pass bills before they adjourn for the year. With President Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress dedicated to slashing as many Obama-era protections as they can, New Yorkers — particularly women — are more anxious than ever to see laws passed that will ensure our basic rights in the event of disaster.

While there are many worthwhile bills that will surely wither and die in the Republican-controlled state senate, here’s a list of the most vital to female New Yorkers.

The Reproductive Health Act

Contrary to widespread belief, New York’s abortion rights lag far behind those of most other states. Though the law legalizes abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, it doesn’t offer adequate protections to providers performing those procedures, meaning most of them simply choose not to perform them. The Reproductive Health Act would essentially update New York’s abortion laws to bring them into accordance with Roe v. Wade. While this legislation has been drifting around the state government for years, Trump’s erratic nature has renewed the need for strong laws in New York in the horrific event that Roe v. Wade is overturned. It’s a big deal.

This bill is currently being debated in the senate’s Health Committee.

The Comprehensive Contraception Act

The Trump administration is well on its way to rolling back a protection that requires employers to offer insurance plans that include free access to birth control, meaning costs for emergency contraception could spike to a prohibitive degree.

This bill would require insurers to provide coverage for contraception, including birth control, emergency contraception, and sterilization procedures.

This bill is currently being debated by the Insurance Committee.

The “Boss” Bill

Being a woman is truly a double-edged sword. In the eyes of many Republicans, abortion should be restricted and birth control shouldn’t be a basic right — but if you do get pregnant, prepare to suffer the consequences at your job.

The so-called Boss Bill would prohibit employers from accessing an employee’s personal information regarding her reproductive decision making, or imposing any requirements that would meddle with the employee’s right to make whatever reproductive choices she wants. The bill would also require that employers make it explicitly clear that their employees can do whatever they’d like with their bodies, and would penalize any who don’t.

This bill has been passed by the senate’s Labor Committee and referred to the Insurance Committee.

Feminine Hygiene Products In Prisons

In New York’s prisons and jails, feminine hygiene products are perversely considered a luxury. As the New York Times reported in April, women’s periods are treated as an “inconvenience, almost a surprise,” to supervisors, with little by way of departmental policy on how to dole out tampons and pads. This bill would provide feminine hygiene products to women housed in state and local correctional facilities.

This bill unanimously passed the senate’s Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee and has been committed to the Rules Committee.

The Equal Rights Amendment

A broad-based bill that would extend equal rights to all New Yorkers, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity, or physical or mental disability.

This bill is being reviewed by the senate’s Judiciary Committee.

The Fair Pay Act

Women, as you know, make 80 cents for every dollar made by men. This bill would make that unlawful in New York. The Fair Pay Act would stipulate that it’s illegal for an employer to discriminate between employees on the basis of sex, race, and/or national origin by paying them different wages.

This bill has been referred to the senate’s Labor Committee.

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