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Politics and Government

Family planning advocates hopeful Women's Equality Act can pass this year

J. Stephen Conn

This is the third year in a row family planning advocates are lobbying for passage of the Women’s Equality Act in Albany. Supporters say they are optimistic about its future, despite some opposition.

Three years isn’t a long time to get legislation passed, says M. Tracey Brooks, president of Family Planning Advocates of New York State.

"That’s young in legislative years,” she said.

The package of ten bills has failed in the past, because of point number ten, which would bring the state’s legislation on abortion in line with the federal standard of Roe v. Wade.  

Brooks thinks the Republican-dominated state Senate, which has balked at the Women’s Equality Act in the past, can be convinced to approve it this year.

"I’m optimistic that there’s continued open doors, and ability to get in to talk to legislators and talk about what this legislation really does versus the myths that are out there,” said Brooks.

The power structure in Albany is different this year, though. Republicans have a clear majority in the Senate, and that body has already approved a comprehensive Women’s Equality Agenda that does not include the provision that would codify abortion.  

Brooks says the entire ten-point agenda supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo does have support of new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.  

“He has assured us that reproductive health care will be adamantly supported in the conference because the Democtratic members of the conference in the Assembly support the full range of reproductive health care,” said Brooks.

The Assembly has approved the whole package in the past.

"When we’re watching other states across the nation, make it harder, putting obstacles in the way, use unscientific, unmedically-based reasoning to limit access to families to health care services that they’re constitutionally entitled to,” said Brooks.