Improving the Lives of Women
My political activism was sparked through fighting for reproductive rights. When I was in college, a woman was not guaranteed a right to seek a safe, legal abortion. After college, I spent years as an activist, organizing around women’s rights. I have since been elected to office and have spent my career continuing to improve the lives of New York women and their families. I’m proud to be a leader on Choice in the Assembly and have led numerous debates on abortion and contraception.
Reproductive Health Act
After several years of disappointing defeat in the Senate, in 2019, New York finally updated its abortion laws for the 21st century. I was proud to lead the fight in the Assembly as the primary sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). The RHA brings our laws into conformity with federal law to ensure all women have access to a safe, legal abortion within the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy, and no longer will any woman be forced to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term. The RHA also clarifies that abortion is available to protect the life and health of a pregnant person, and that all medical professionals who are licensed to provide abortion services are able to do so. This hard-fought victory, which essentially codifies Roe v. Wade in New York State, is one of a continuum of work I have done to protect women’s health throughout my career.
Women’s Health and Wellness
After five years of legislative wrangling, New York State passed my Women’s Health and Wellness bill into law in 2002. It reduced the age at which a mammogram would be covered by insurance from 50 to 40 years of age. It provided for coverage of bone density screening and it required contraceptive coverage in existing or future employee provided prescription drug plans.
I am proud to have been sponsor of the 2009 amendments to the education law which now requires NYS colleges to providing incoming students with information on address domestic violence and stalking. This is a includes prevention, laws, penalties and the college’s response to any incidents or offenses, including assistance for victims. The bill also requires a review of campus policies and procedures for educating the school community on reporting of incidents during investigations, referring complaints to proper authorities and counseling victims. In 2014, I was sponsor of the bill which was signed by the Governor which established the “yes means yes” protocol for sexual consent on college campuses throughout New York.
Paid Family Leave
The need for access to affordable child care and paid family leave are essential to improving the lives of women and families. I am proud to be co-sponsor of A1793-B, which was folded into the FY 2015 budget, which would provide paid family leave for injury, sickness, pregnancy or care of a sick relative. While the Federal Family Medical Leave Act guarantees access to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, many families can’t afford the loss of income. This bill would prevent people from having to choose between addressing medical conditions and paid work.
Affordable Child Care
I am pleased that during the 2014 budget negotiations, I was able to secure a restoration of cuts previously made to the SUNY and CUNY childcare centers. This additional funding allows more students to access affordable, quality child care on campuses across the state. This program not only provides employment for staff of the child care centers, but increases graduation rates for students and developmental outcomes for the children. The single best indicator for a child to pursue a college education is to see a parent do so. This is an added benefit to having childcare on campus.