Albany, NY – Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, the lead sponsor of a landmark equal rights amendment to enshrine reproductive rights into the New York State Constitution, hailed its historic passage today in the state Legislature.
“When we began this historic battle by introducing an equality amendment to the New York Constitution, we stood on the shoulders of the women suffragists and civil rights leaders of many generations passed,’" said Seawright.
“With the enduring support of Speaker Heastie, Governor Hochul, Assembly colleagues, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Senator Liz Krueger and numerous advocates, we are closer than ever to enshrining a woman’s rights to choose and equality protections against discrimination in the most important governing document of our state,” Seawright said.
“The bright beaming light of New York State’s leadership will shine through the dark, gloomy days of the United States Supreme Court.”
The language of the amendment declares that no person shall be subjected to any discrimination in their civil rights by the state or other person, firm, corporation, or institution, or any agency or subdivision of the state “because of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, creed, religion, or sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy…”
Seawright began fighting for an equal rights amendment as the lead sponsor of proposed legislation five years ago. Today’s breakthrough achievement marks a turning point and places the amendment on track for the three-step approval process. A second legislative approval is required as early as 2023, followed by statewide referendum placing the issue before the voters.
“The fundamental right of every woman to reproductive health care choice is the guiding principle embedded into the legislation,’’ said Seawright. “The need is ever more evident following the disastrous Supreme Court decision that abolished Roe v. Wade. We need a proper legislative response that will be a national model for rectifying the erroneous and misguided Supreme Court ruling.
“We are now closer to achieving our goal of an equal rights amendment to the New York Constitution.”
Seawright thanked the following activists who supported the legislation:
The New York Civil Liberties Union
Planned Parenthood of New York
The ERA Coalition
The National Institute for Reproductive Health
Columbia Law School ERA Project
Evan Davis, former counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo
Liz Holtzman, former member of Congress
Julie Suk, Professor of Law, Fordham University