Supporting Proactive PolicyTara SweeneyJuly 13, 2015
Recognizing that attacks on reproductive health care access often force advocates and providers into a defensive mode, the National Institute sees proactive policy work that actively advances access to reproductive health care as critical to sustaining access across the country. We support organizing, advocacy, and coalition building to achieve policy change and improve access to reproductive health care.
In recent years, advocates and policymakers have focused on comprehensive women’s legislative agendas that recognize the connection among policies that advance women’s economic stability, equality, and access to reproductive health care.
See the National Institute’s research exploring attitudes toward linking reproductive health and rights with other areas of women’s lives.
The National Institute has worked closely on several state-specific comprehensive women’s agendas:
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Women’s Equality Act in 2013, a 10-point omnibus bill including policies relating to equal pay, sexual harassment, treatment of pregnant women in the workplace, intimate partner violence, and abortion rights. The National Institute, through our sister organization NARAL Pro-Choice New York
, was heavily involved in the campaign to pass the Women’s Equality Act.
Between 2013 and 2015, the New York State Assembly twice passed the full 10-point Women’s Equality Act, as well as a standalone bill enshrining the protections of Roe v. Wade in New York State law – marking the first time in decades that abortion rights was debated and embraced on the floor of either legislative chamber. However, the anti-choice-led State Senate repeated refused to act on the abortion legislation contained in the package. By 2015, the remainder of the Women’s Equality Act passed both chambers, and most were signed by Gov. Cuomo.
In Pennsylvania, the National Institute advised partners working on the Agenda for Women’s Health, a set of bills that will ultimately encompass more than 20 legislative proposals. Thus far, more than a dozen bills have been introduced, including a Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act, several measures to improve access to reproductive health care, bills that will improve protections for victims of intimate partner violence, and measures designed to improve the living and working conditions of low-income mothers and families. Three of the proposed Agenda for Women’s Health bills have already become law, including two that protect victims of intimate partner violence from further harassment from their abusers and from housing discrimination and a bill that will study solutions to administrative hurdles hindering low-income families with children from maintaining their child care subsidies and other assistance. Read more on the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health website
The National Institute worked closely with our partners to put together the Virginia Women’s Equality Agenda, a legislative package focused on safeguarding women’s reproductive health and rights, promoting economic opportunity, and increasing democratic participation in government. The bills in the package include a repeal of the mandatory ultrasound and waiting period for abortion, protecting access to contraception, increasing the minimum wage, establishing universal paid sick days, and ending partisan redistricting in Virginia. Read more on the Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition website