Abortion or Bust! Pro-Choice Extremism Doomed 10-Point 'Women's Equality Act' in New York; NYTimes Places Story on A16

A stubborn, doctrinaire insistence by hard-line abortion rights advocates that a bill titled the Women's Equality Act must not pass without language further liberalizing the Empire State's abortion laws doomed the bill to failure in the New York State Assembly, the New York Times's Thomas Kaplan reported today. Even so, the Times did its best to shield the abortion lobby -- groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood -- for blame for the death of legislation with "widespread support" that would "strengthen the state’s laws against sexual harassment, human trafficking, domestic violence and salary discrimination."

In his page A16 article article in Monday's Times -- blandly headlined "All-or-Nothing Strategy on Women's Equality Legislation Ends With Nothing" -- reporter Thomas Kaplan noted that:


The bill’s failure followed an abrupt strategic shift in the final days of the session. Until then, Mr. Cuomo, as well as women’s right’s advocates and other Democratic elected officials, insisted that they would accept nothing less than the entire 10-point package, even if dropping the abortion language might allow them to win nine of the proposed provisions. But on Friday, the advocates splintered — Naral Pro-Choice New York stood by the all-or-nothing approach, while others, including Mr. Cuomo, urged accepting a partial victory — and the entire package sank.

The result has left many lawmakers disappointed.

“Women’s equality and health should not be compromised because of a political game of chicken,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Queens Democrat, who opposed ceding any element of the package.

There was little agreement, even about the substance of the legislation: Mr. Cuomo and women’s rights advocates said it would simply codify in state law the right already guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, but abortion opponents said it would expand the availability of abortions.

The Assembly, controlled by Democrats, voted for the entire package, but the Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and independent Democrats, approved only the nine provisions not about abortion. When the leader of the independent faction of Democrats, Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, tried to attach the abortion language to a bill on medical records, the effort failed by one vote.

Some advocates of the legislation now want the Assembly to come back and approve the non-abortion measures, even while hoping to strengthen abortion law at some other time. The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, has not ruled that out.

The headline, which is more the fault of editors than Mr. Kaplan, failed to clue in readers that a doctrinaire refusal to compromise on the part of pro-abortion rights Democrats was the reason the package failed. In fairness, however, a pull quote in the article reads, "An abortion rights provision is tied to the failure of Cuomo's bill."

But you'll notice that Kaplan cited one of the state legislature's doctrinaire pro-choice liberals, Assemblywoman Rozic, as a "disappointed" lawmaker, even though it was her intransigence and refusal to compromise that led to defeat of the package. While the New York Times and the rest of the liberal media wail endlessly about conservative Republicans's unwillingness to compromise, it's instructive that hard-left posturing by Democrats is treated as a stand on principle, not as pig-headed stubbornness.

Remember, fully 90 percent of the original bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support, it's only the portion about abortion that was scrubbed by the New York State Senate. While Kaplan noted that some liberal advocates, like Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union, seem interested in getting the 90 percent loaf rather than nothing at all, he rushed back to another doctrinaire pro-abortion liberal Democrat to fire back with spin that makes excuses for a hard-line stance that scuttled the bill's chances to pass (emphasis mine):

But some lawmakers were adamant that the abortion issue was inseparable from other women’s rights concerns.

“I think it’s inappropriate and unfair to leave out women’s health when you’re claiming to be an advocate for all these other parts of a woman’s life,” said Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, a Hudson Valley Democrat who is a former board member of Planned Parenthood of New York City and Naral. “They’re all really important, but if a woman can’t make choices about her own body and her own reproductive health, you’re really not delivering equality in these other areas.”

What's more, Kaplan waited until the 13th paragraph -- in an 18-paragraph story -- to consider the perspective of pro-lifer political observers in the Empire State:

Opponents of abortion said the collapse of the legislation demonstrated that the only issue of concern to the bill’s champions was abortion.

“That’s what we were saying from Day 1: that this was just a smoke screen for abortion expansion, and the only reason they were bundled together was for political reasons, which we found unconscionable,” said Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference.

“It would have been very nice to see these other pieces pass, but their agenda is abortion,” he added. “They couldn’t get that, so they torpedoed the whole thing.”

But with that out of that way, Kaplan turned again to a NARAL rep saber-rattling against the foes of abortion before allowing a Cuomo spokeswoman the final word (emphasis mine):

One thing is certain: the abortion issue will be a prominent one in next year’s legislative elections. Naral Pro-Choice New York ran an independent-expenditure campaign for some candidates in 2012, and Andrea Miller, its president, said, “One of the things that this made crystal clear, and probably one of the most important things that this session demonstrated, is what our roadblock is, and that roadblock is the State Senate.”

Mr. Cuomo, through a spokeswoman, said he believed the debate had advanced the topic of women’s rights, and that now it was up to voters to respond.

“Issues that have long been nonstarters in the Legislature, including stronger laws against human trafficking, sexual harassment in the workplace, income inequality and other critically important protections, are now in their strongest position in years to become law,” said the spokeswoman, Melissa DeRosa. “In the end, the public will hold individual legislators accountable if they stand in the way of finally achieving equality for women in New York State.”

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters