Assemblymember Phil Steck Passes Legislation to Protect Women’s Access to Health Care

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that he helped pass numerous pieces of legislation to protect the rights of women to make their own reproductive health decisions. The bills include a measure that he co-sponsored to prevent employees from discrimination by their employers based on their reproductive health decisions or accessing private medical information without their consent (A.566).

“Just because the owners of a company have a moral or religious objection to contraceptives doesn’t mean they get to dictate how their employees live their lives,” said Steck. “A woman’s health care choice is her own, not her boss’s. Nobody should be prevented from making their own health care decisions or feel discriminated against because of them. As the Trump administration continues to threaten women’s rights at the federal level, these protections are more important now than ever.”

Steck also helped pass the Contraceptive Equity Act (A.9957), which would codify a measure under the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance plans cover FDA-approved contraceptives when they are prescribed by a doctor or healthcare provider. This bill also clarifies that insurers are prohibited from charging co-pays or deductibles.

“Access to contraception is an essential part of a woman’s health care. In addition to helping prevent unplanned pregnancies, it is used to treat a wide range of health issues” added Steck.

Additionally, Steck helped pass a measure to ensure New York’s laws are updated to include the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision ensuring women have access to safe and legal abortions when pregnancy is within 24 weeks, when there is an absence of fetal viability or when the woman’s life or health are endangered. By ensuring this measure is included in New York State law, we can ensure that women’s rights are protected even if Roe v. Wade is overturned at the federal level, Steck noted.

Steck also helped pass a measure that would amend the state constitution to ensure that an individual, no matter their sex, is guaranteed equal protections in the same manner that race or religion are (A.7990-A). The state’s constitution currently does not outline that sex be granted the same protections. As this bill is a constitutional amendment, it would need to be passed by two separately elected legislatures before being approved by voters as a ballot measure.

“It’s ridiculous to think that in our state’s constitution, an individual’s sex is not guaranteed equal rights and protections,” said Steck. “This is a no brainer. A constitutional amendment makes a clear statement that discrimination against one’s sex won’t be tolerated.”