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Skelos misrepresents Women’s Equality Act

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ reply to The News editorial about the Republicans’ obstruction of the Women’s Equality Act was both misleading and incendiary.

He falsely claims that the agenda would expand late-term abortion. Roe v. Wade already ensures that doctors can provide medical treatment necessary to protect a women’s life or health throughout pregnancy. This applies across the country, including in New York. But New York’s abortion law, as written, appears to prohibit all abortions after 24 weeks, even those necessary to protect a woman’s health. It is therefore unconstitutional and unenforceable. The Women’s Equality Act would simply clarify state law and align it with federal law. More than 25 New York law professors confirmed this in a public statement last month.

It is one thing to oppose a pregnant woman’s right to get the medical care she needs throughout the course of her pregnancy. But it’s quite something else to prevent our elected representatives from voting on a proposal to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. By exercising the stranglehold his party maintains over the State Senate’s agenda through his power-sharing agreement with a small break-off group of Democrats, Skelos refused to allow a vote on the full Women’s Equality Act – because of its reproductive rights provisions – even though the most conservative poll shows that 67 percent of New Yorkers support the measure. As a result, important advances for women promised by the act’s 10 provisions, including measures to advance equal pay and fair treatment for pregnant workers, were left on the table as lawmakers went home for the summer.

This is not what women’s equality looks like, and it’s certainly not what our democracy ought to look like.

Donna Lieberman

Executive Director

New York Civil Liberties Union