Monday marked Women's Equality Day as it has been 93 years since the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. And while many women's rights activists celebrate this date, in New York, it is stirring up debate from a legislative battle that went unfinished in this year's session. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports.
NEW YORK STATE -- Lawmakers in the state legislature Monday recognized the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the Constitutional change that gave women the right to vote in 1920. And both Republicans and Democrats used the anniversary as a chance to push for their competing versions of the women's agenda that stalled in June. At issue is an abortion plank aimed at updating the current state laws to the Roe v. Wade ruling.
"I think it would be a tremendous mistake for New York of all states that we're somehow dropping a key point of that ten point plan," said Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.
The Democratic-led Assembly approved the full ten point women's agenda, which includes pay equity legislation and an anti-human trafficking bill. But the Senate, under the leadership of Republicans and four independent Democrats, passed nine pieces of the agenda as individual bills and declined to hold a vote on the abortion bill.
"Expansion of late term abortion is extreme in my opinion. It's not progressive, it's extreme and there's a lot of room with the other nine issues," said Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos.
In separate statements on Monday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the occasion of the 19th Amendment passing, marked as Women's Equality Day, should motivate the Senate to approve the full plan. But in his own statement made shortly after, Skelos said it was up to the Assembly to take up the agreed upon points that could be made law.
The statement read, "There is no denying that these nine measures will improve the lives of countless women throughout our state and that the Assembly’s failure to act would be a grave injustice. It’s time for the Speaker to heed the advice of Governor Cuomo and leading women’s groups to join us in enacting each of these agreed-upon women’s equality measures into law."
But women in the Democratic-led Assembly disagree. They still back the full ten point plan, which includes the abortion provision. Their power has only grown after spate of sexual harassment scandals involving male lawmakers and more criticism is heaped on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Fahy said, "We are still very much holding firm that it's a ten point plan and we would like to see it remain as a ten point plan."