New York Women's Equality Act Stalled For A Second Time
For the second year in a row, the New York State legislature closed its legislative session without voting on the Women's Equality Act (WEA). Part of a 10-part legislative package introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) in June of 2013, the Act focused on strengthening laws on equal pay, pregnancy discrimination, domestic violence, and sexual harassment.
"Simply put, we find it shocking that such a straightforward update of our state's abortion laws - nothing more than codifying Roe - could not garner enough votes to pass in our State Senate, even though 67 percent of New York voters supported it," said President of the National Organization for Women of New York City, Sonia Ossorio, in a statement. "While it is disappointing that we were not able to secure a critical update to our abortion law, women still deserve to see progress in other areas of their lives. There is a concrete opportunity to make a difference in the lives of New York's women and girls - and it is especially critical for women facing poverty, abuse, and discrimination."
Other planks in the full package include extending protections against sexual harassment to all workplaces, allowing the recovery of attorney fees in harassment cases, ending employment discrimination based on whether a woman has children or is pregnant, and strengthening order of protection laws and human trafficking laws in the state.
Media Resources: Albany Times-Union 6/22/14; NOW-NYC; The Legislative Gazette 6/20/14; Gothamist 6/22/14; NY Women's Equality Coalition; Feminist Newswire 1/30/14
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .