Paying tribute to the life and accomplishments of Constance Cook, former New York State Assemblywoman

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LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION paying tribute to the life and accomplishments of
Constance Eberhardt Cook, former New York State Assemblywoman; first
female vice president at Cornell University; and author of the law that
legalized abortion in New York State, three years before it became legal
across the Nation

WHEREAS, It is the sense of this Legislative Body to honor the lives of
those esteemed individuals of world renown who distinguished themselves
through their life's work; and
WHEREAS, Attendant to such concern, and in full accord with its long-
standing traditions, this Legislative Body is justly proud to pay trib-
ute to the life and accomplishments of Constance Cook, Assemblymember,
activist, and legal crusader for women's rights; and
WHEREAS, Constance Cook was best known for having passed in the Assem-
bly on April 10, 1970, the abortion rights law that she wrote with State
Senator Franz S. Leichter, which legalized abortion for women in New
York State three years before the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade
legalized it throughout the country; and
WHEREAS, Constance Cook died on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, at the age
of 89; and
WHEREAS, Constance Cook was appointed to the chair of the Assembly's
Education Committee in 1969, becoming the first woman to head a major
committee of the New York State legislature; and
WHEREAS, Constance Cook served from 1962 to 1974 as the representative
in the New York State Assembly of the 128th District, which then
included Tompkins, Yates and Seneca Counties, and was known as an active
proponent of the expansion of the State University system; and
WHEREAS, Constance Cook graduated from Cornell in 1941, and earned her
law degree there in 1943, after which she went to work at a Wall Street
law firm; she moved to Ithaca five years later and became a legal
assistant to Assemblyman Ray S. Ashberry, whose Assembly seat she
successfully ran for when he retired; and
WHEREAS, Constance Cook successfully advocated for the Reverend Betty
Bone Schiess, one of 11 women who has been ordained to the Episcopal
priesthood by reformist bishops, and whom Bishop Ned Cole of the Diocese
of Central New York refused to license; and
WHEREAS, Constance Cook took Reverend Schiess's case to the United
States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ruled in Reverend
Schiess's favor; the General Convention of the church then passed a
resolution in July 1976, declaring that "no one shall be denied access"
to ordination on the basis of sex; and
WHEREAS, A true hero to the women of New York and to fair-minded
people everywhere, who engaged in her work with both great wit and
extraordinary kindness, Constance Cook is survived by a daughter, Cathe-
rine; a son, John; a sister, Marjorie Haupt; and three grandchildren;
her husband, Alfred, died in 1998; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to pay
tribute to the extraordinary life and accomplishments of Constance Cook,
Assemblymember, activist, and legal crusader for women's rights; and be
it further
RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution, suitably engrossed, be tran-
smitted to the family of Constance Cook.


  • 02 / Mar / 2009
  • 03 / Mar / 2009
  • 03 / Mar / 2009

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative


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