Senate Majority Coalition Uses Legislative Manuever To Bury Reproductive Health Bills

Monday, May 1st, 2017
Albany – Today the State Senate Committees on Labor and Insurance passed two bills relating to reproductive healthcare rights, but a legislative maneuver by the Senate majority coalition will likely prevent them from reaching the Senate floor. S3791, known as the “Boss Bill”, would ban employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their personal reproductive health decisions; S3790, would increase access to emergency contraception. Both bills were forced onto the committee agendas through a motion for consideration filed by Senator Liz Krueger, the bills’ sponsor.

Although the bills passed both committees, they were subsequently referred to two secondary committees, a well known tactic used by the Senate majority coalition to prevent unwanted bills from reaching the floor for a vote. Due to Senate rules that place time constraints on motions for consideration, the bills cannot be forced onto the agendas in the new committees this session, effectively rendering them dead in the face of opposition from the majority coalition.

“I wish I could say that I’m pleased so many of my colleagues voted to support the reproductive rights of women and families in New York State,” said Senator Krueger. “But I am not pleased – because once again the Republican-IDC coalition is using parliamentary tricks to bury these bills and avoid taking responsibility for their anti-woman, anti-choice agenda. I would be delighted if the majority would prove me wrong and bring these bills to the floor for a vote, but I’m not holding my breath. The fate of these bills demonstrates yet again why we need a unified Democratic Conference in the Senate.”

S3791, known as the “Boss Bill,” would close a glaring loophole in New York’s existing workplace anti-discrimination laws. The bill would protect all workers, both men and women, from being discriminated against by their employers for their reproductive healthcare decisions or their use of the available range of reproductive care services, whether covered by insurance or otherwise. This would include, for example, women who have become pregnant and are accessing pregnancy-related healthcare services, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. The bill passed the Senate Labor Committee today and was referred to the Insurance Committee, despite not having any effect on insurance law.

S3790 would expand access to over-the-counter emergency contraception (EC) for those without a prescription. The Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to cover the full cost of EC when purchased with a prescription. But given the time-sensitive nature of EC, women are often forced to purchase it without a prescription, for example on weekends. In those circumstances, women must pay out of pocket, which can be cost-prohibitive for some, especially young women or those with lower incomes. S3790 requires insurance companies to provide coverage for EC purchased legally over-the-counter, even without a prescription. The bill passed the Senate Insurance Committee today and was referred to the Health Committee.

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