In a victory for New York State women, the ten-point Women’s Equality Act(WEA), has been broken up by the Assembly, paving the way for protections for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence, among other issues. An abortion-expansion component, the tenth point of the ten-point WEA, has for years been a sticking point to the passage of the other 9 bills.
Nine of the 10 points were met with agreement in both the Senate and the Assembly, but the 10th point, the abortion expansion that would have also allowed non-doctors to perform abortions, was denied passage by the Senate. Pro-lifers fought a tense battle, with only a single vote in the New York State Senate preventing the abortion-expansion from coming to floor.
The pro-abortion-led Assembly, instead of accepting the victory on 9 out of 10 bills, refused to break apart the omnibus bill, and insisted that it was all or nothing. And thus has it been since 2013, with the Senate repeatedly passing individual bills, and the Assembly repeatedly refusing to consider them.
But now, two years and three legislative sessions later, true justice has arrived. With the fall from grace of the former Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, his successor, Carl Heastie, has decided to allow a vote on the individual pieces of the 10 point WEA.
On Monday, the Assembly passed a bill to protect victims of human trafficking, the first sign that their chokehold on the omnibus bill was loosening. All reports since then indicate that the remainder will be broken up and voted on, as the Senate has done in 2013, 2014, and again this year.
For years, the New York State Legislature has been fighting to expand New York’s already expansive abortion law by adding a “health” exception to third-trimester abortions with legislation known as the Reproductive Health Act. With failed attempt after failed attempt, Governor Andrew Cuomo and his pro-abortion allies knew that they needed to change their strategy in order to ram through an extreme agenda that makes even most pro-choice individuals uncomfortable.
New York State’s liberal abortion law, passed in 1970, already allows for abortion in the third trimester for instances where the mother’s life was in danger. But that wasn’t good enough for extreme pro-abortion activists.
Watching the consistent gains of the pro-life movement across the country, and fearing the day Roe v. Wade is overturned, they seek to change NY law to ensure that abortion-on-demand is preserved through all nine months of pregnancy. And yet, even in New York, the abortion capital of the country, the legislature has been able to hold the line against unfettered third-trimester abortion.
Watching the Reproductive Health Act fail time and again, Governor Cuomo decided to change tacks in 2013. He introduced the Women’s Equality Act, a single omnibus bill containing ten disparate pieces of legislation.
After all, abortion proponents must have known, if the Reproductive Health Act had failed time and again, what chance did abortion-expansion have if it wasn’t directly tied to positive legislation? Lawmakers who opposed the omnibus bill were accused of denying protections to victims of human trafficking despite their willingness to support standalone bills that would provide the exact same protections.
But Governor Cuomo and his pro-abortion ilk don’t care about women; they care about power. They were using New York women as pawns in an attempt to bully the legislature into expanding abortions in the third trimester, and did so all in the name of equality. Even though their claims clearly did not pass the straight face test, they kept up the façade, even going so far as to create the “Women’s Equality Party” to run on in 2014, again tying violent and painful abortions to equality for women.
Pro-life advocates in New York are rightfully celebrating this victory, not only for all the individuals who will benefit from the other provisions of the WEA, but for the hope that this instills in what can often be a state that seems hopeless.
While succeeding in holding the line against an expansion of third-trimester abortion is obviously not the victory that we ultimately hope to obtain, it’s a reminder that pro-life voices are being heard loud and clear in New York State, and that, ultimately, we can, and we WILL, turn the tide.
LifeNews Note: Jessica Rogers is the legislative director for New York State Right to Life.