NEW YORK—Facing opposition to the abortion portion of his Women’s Equality Act (WEA), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has agreed to include a ban on partial birth abortion to ease concerns. NARAL Pro-Choice America announced the changes to the WEA, showing how closely Cuomo has worked with the abortion lobby on this bill.
But state Republican lawmakers have said that proposal doesn’t alleviate their concerns. State Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who controls the Senate with a coalition of a few Democrats, has said he will not bring the abortion measure to the floor.
“Look, we’re very firm on our stance,” said state Senate Deputy Minority Leader Tom Libous. “Sen. Skelos and the conference has not changed. It’s not an issue that we’re going to move on and we’ve made that very clear. We’re prepared to do nine points of the 10 points, and those nine points are being talked about, negotiated.”
Skelos’ spokeswoman Kelly Cummings confirmed his position, telling the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, “Nothing has changed.”
A federal ban on partial birth abortion already exists, so a change to the WEA would simply affirm the federal ban. Cuomo’s abortion proposal, one point of 10 points in the WEA, would legalize abortion after 24 weeks of gestation. He has characterized it as codifying Roe v. Wade. But the proposal goes even further, removing criminal penalties for abortion. It removes homicide charges for the baby if a murderer kills a pregnant woman. The proposal also would repeal the criminal code against 2nd-degree abortion—a statute, for example, that resulted in a guilty plea for a man who attempted to abort a woman’s baby by putting a drug in her drink.
“If the governor simply adds a sentence to his bill noting that there is a federal ban on partial-birth abortion, that would not even come close to remedying the fundamental flaws in this legislation,” said Rev. Jason McGuire, the director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, which is working with a coalition of pro-life groups to block the abortion provision.
Cuomo is running out of time to pass the measure: The legislative session is supposed to come to a close in two weeks. The Senate Republicans are working on passing a package with all of Cuomo’s proposals but the abortion provision.