New York legislature poised to protect reproductive and gender rights

ALBANY, NY (AP) — The New York legislature on Tuesday began taking another step toward passing a constitutional amendment that would ban discrimination based on “pregnancy outcomes” or “gender expression” — provisions that are intended to are to protect abortion rights and a person’s right to seek sex-affirmative care.

In a few afternoon votes, the state Senate and Assembly began considering an extension of the Equal Protection Amendment to the state constitution. That would pave the way for the amendment to be put to voters in a referendum in 2024.

The democratically controlled assembly approved the measure on Tuesday afternoon. The Senate would follow.

While the amendment would not explicitly preserve a woman’s right to abortion, supporters say it would in practice protect reproductive rights.
“We are fearless. This is our mandate to continue strengthening New York’s status as a destination state where reproductive freedoms are protected and the right to choose is guaranteed,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​said at a press conference at the Capitol for the mood.
The legislature first approved the amendment in a special session last summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It was the first step in the state’s amendment process, which requires lawmakers to pass a resolution twice to send it to voters. Governor Kathy Hochul doesn’t have to sign the bill into law to become law, but she has said she supports it.
The New York Constitution currently prohibits discrimination based on “race, color, creed, or religion”. The amendment would expand that list to include ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and “reproductive health care and autonomy.”
Assemblyman David DiPietro, a Republican from western New York, said during the floor debate that the measure was unfair to many believers.
“The passage of the Equality Amendment would further erode religious freedom for New Yorkers whose beliefs, traditions teach that abortion, homosexuality and/or transgenderism are immoral and could subject many faith-based charities and schools to catastrophic liability,” DiPietro said.
State Senator Liz Krueger, a sponsor of the bill, said adding it to the amendment helps modernize the state constitution to recognize that all New Yorkers, regardless of gender identity or age or disability, “should have equal rights under the Constitution to are protected against discrimination.”
“Because guess what? We recently learned that the courts can change and suddenly the protections you thought you had because of lawsuits aren’t there anymore,” the Manhattan Democrat said.

Abortion has been legal under New York state law since 1970, three years before it was decriminalized nationwide. The law, which is still in effect with little chance of changing anytime soon, allows abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy. The state also legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, four years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people had that right nationwide. said Carl Heastie at a morning rally at the state capitol.
Associated Press writer Michael Hill in Albany, New York contributed to this report.
Maysoon Khan serves on the Corps for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues. Follow Maysoon Khan on Twitter.

New York legislature poised to protect reproductive and gender rights

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