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NOW-NYC advocates for laws that defend our rights and break barriers for women and girls. We champion critical legislation to end discrimination, advance fairness in the workplace, protect and expand reproductive rights, and strengthen our criminal justice system for victims of gender-based violence.


New York State Legislation

End Victim-Blaming Laws for Sexual Assault
Current law ignores the reality of how sexual assault and rapes happen. A national study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found that more than a third of rape victims were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Perpetrators purposefully target victims who are vulnerable after drinking to excess, or even encourage drinking to facilitate an assault. We cannot set the bar in our criminal laws so low that drinking too much alcohol is a permission slip for rape. We must update NY's rape laws to ensure that survivors are able to report and get justice. This legislation would close the rape intoxication loophole, clarifying that individuals who voluntarily consume alcohol may be unable to consent.
Governor's Proposal:
State of the State
Sex Trade Survivors Justice & Equality Act
The legislation — based on a progressive legal framework supported by survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking now known as the Equality Model — decriminalizes people in prostitution in New York, while also vacating and expunging past convictions. It also gives them access to comprehensive, trauma-informed services and options to exit the sex trade should they wish to do so. The proposed law will also hold accountable those who cause lifelong harm, profit off of and drive prostitution and sex trafficking. The legislation will continue to uphold statutes that hold accountable pimps, traffickers, brothel owners and illicit massage parlor owners, strengthen anti-trafficking laws, and address sex buying through a fine using an income-based fine scale.
Bill Number:
S6040
Sponsors:
Senator Liz Krueger / Assemblymember Pamela Hunter
Ban Virginity Testing
The invasive and sexist practice of so-called “virginity testing” is still happening in 2020 in the U.S. Subjecting girls to any form of “virginity testing” is sexual violence and a direct violation of their bodily integrity and privacy. The practice is a reflection of the antiquated standards society still hold for girls and young women, and it is in no way accepted as valid by the medical community. In fact, the United Nations and the World Health Organization co-wrote a statement calling to end virginity testing around the world. This legislation would ban virginity testing in New York State, prohibiting medical practitioners from performing these examinations and subjecting them to penalties if they breach the ban. Any “virginity tests” performed outside of a professional medical setting would be considered sexual assault under the proposal.
Bill Number:
A08742 / S6879
Sponsors:
Assemblymember Solages / Senator Persaud
Pass An Inclusive Equal Rights Amendment
This legislation strengthens and updates equal protection language in the New York State Constitution to prohibit denial of equality of rights on the basis of sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Our State Constitution’s current Equal Rights Amendment does not include sex, prohibiting discrimination based on “race, color, creed, or religion.” This expanded ERA would embed equality for women and LGBTQ people in our state constitution and would expand protections against all forms of discrimination.
Stop Abusive Practices for Home Care Workers
Home healthcare workers are providing essential care for seniors across New York, but they face harsh and unfair working conditions. Often forced to take on 24-hour shifts for days on end, they care for patients around-the-clock, even though they are only paid for 13 hours of each 24-hour shift. This legislation will prohibit the shameful and unconscionable practice of the 24-hour workdays that harm workers and put patients at risk, by limiting shifts to 12 hours and capping required hours per week.
Sponsors:
Assemblymember Epstein / Senator Persaud
Make Comprehensive Sexual Education a Reality
This legislation would require comprehensive sexuality instruction for students in grades K-12, which would address age and developmentally appropriate physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality and would reflect the national sexuality education standards.
Bill Number:
S4844 / A6512
Sponsors:
State Senator Metzger / Assemblymember Nolan

Federal Legislation

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act: Passed by the House!
The Violence Against Women Act provides critical funding for direct services, professional training, and prevention programs that address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The reauthorization includes key improvements that will expand protections for the most marginalized groups and make stronger investments in prevention.
Bill Number:
H.R. 1620
Sponsor:
Representative Jackson Lee
Bipartisan Background Checks Act: Passed by the House!
Would require a background check for the sale of every firearm. Currently, there is a loophole that allows sellers who are not federal licensed to bypass conducting a background check.
Bill Number:
H.R.8
Sponsor:
Representative Mike Thompson
Women’s Health Protection Act
Protects the right to abortion access by creating a safeguard against medically unnecessary restrictions or bans. Specifically, the Act would protect abortion access from bans prior to viability, restrictions on the ability to access medication abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, requirements that doctors provide medically inaccurate or even false information to abortion seekers, and mandates for pregnant people to undergo invasive ultrasounds or waiting periods before allowing them to have an abortion.
Sponsors:
Congresswomen Chu, Frankel, and Fudge / Senators Blumenthal and Baldwin
Black Maternal Health Momnibus
A series of bills that will address the black maternal mortality rate. The bills will: invest in housing, transportation, nutrition, and other social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes; provide funding to community-based organizations; study maternal health risks facing women veterans and invest in VA maternity care coordination; grow and diversify the perinatal workforce; improve data collection to better understand the causes and solutions of the maternal health crisis; invest in maternal mental health care and substance use disorder treatments; improve maternal health care for incarcerated women; invest in digital tools like telehealth for underserved areas; and incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of health insurance coverage from pregnancy through one year postpartum.
Sponsors:
Congresswomen Underwood and Adams / Senator Harris
Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act
Would ensure access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all women, regardless of their income level or source of their insurance coverage. If passed, this legislation will repeal the 1976 Hyde Amendment that made it illegal to use federal funds for abortion coverage.
Bill Number:
H.R. 1692
Sponsor:
Congressmember Lee
The Family Medical Leave Modernization Act
Ensures that employees are able to take leave in order to care for their loved ones by (1) expanding medical leave eligibility to employees who work for employers with 15 employees or more, (2) extending the amount of leave an employee can take to 24 hours in a 12 month period and 4 hours in a 30 day period, (3) broadening the definition of family to incorporate more caregiving relationships.
Bill Number:
H.R. 5456
Sponsor:
Congressmember Maloney
Arbitration Fairness Act
Would keep mandatory arbitration clauses out of employment contracts, giving harassed workers the option of going to court. Currently, forced arbitration thwarts the ability of workers and consumers to hold corporations accountable for abuses and crimes of sexual misconduct.
Sponsors:
Senator Blumenthal / Congressmember Johnson
Intern Protection Act: Passed by the House!
Aims to extend certain rights to interns, including freedom from employment discrimination, job security in case of pregnancy, and protection against workplace sexual harassment.
Bill Number:
H.R. 136
Sponsor:
Congressmember Cummings