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Letter: Equality agenda’s failure is not Republicans’ fault

Equality agenda’s failure is not Republicans’ fault

I must take issue with the June 26 editorial on the State Legislature’s efforts to pass a women’s equality agenda for New York. The News’ attempt to lay blame at the feet of Senate Republicans is completely off the mark. In fact, it was the Senate Republicans who worked in good faith to negotiate an agreement on nine of the governor’s original proposals, and we took up and passed them all before concluding our legislative session. Those measures would guarantee equal pay for equal work, protect the victims of domestic violence, end human trafficking and stamp out sexual harassment wherever it exists, among other important issues.

It was Speaker Sheldon Silver who refused to vote on the bills in the Assembly before sending his members home for the summer. He should bring them back to Albany and swiftly do so.

Meanwhile, instead of providing the leadership necessary to achieve our historic women’s equality agenda, the governor tied its passage to an extreme proposal that would expand late-term abortion in New York State. It’s disingenuous for the governor to manufacture a crisis where none exists. In New York, 30 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, the highest in the nation, while in New York City it is 41 percent. Earlier this year, a poll found that a majority of New Yorkers support sensible restrictions and oppose changes that would expand late-term abortion. Further, it’s unlikely that the same Supreme Court that just overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act is going to overturn Roe v. Wade, as some of the advocates contend.

The governor’s abortion proposal would have expanded late-term abortion right up until the day of a baby’s birth, eliminated all criminal penalties and allowed non-doctors to perform abortions. I took a careful look at this proposal, and had grave concerns that it would put the safety and well-being of women at risk. Therefore, I couldn’t consent to bringing it up for a vote.

Dean G. Skelos

Co-leader, New York State Senate

Republican Conference Leader