Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday stressed that the Senate should hold a vote on his women’s agenda and blamed the two legislative conferences leading the chamber for blocking progress on the bill.
Advocates that have been leading the charge for Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act announced Thursday they would amend the abortion provision of the 10-point plan to alleviate Republicans’ concerns that the legislation might allow partial-birth abortion in New York, which is banned on the federal level. Senate GOP leadership balked at the changes, maintaining their position that the bill would be either unnecessary or an expansion of abortion rights, both of which the conference would oppose.
“One of the senators was saying, well, this is a partial-birth abortion expansion. And they (women’s groups) said, no it’s not, and if you want us to say that explicitly, we’ll say that explicitly,” Cuomo said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a public-radio program. “So now we have clarity. And then they say, well, we still don’t want to do it. OK, and that was the truth all along. You just don’t want to do it, fine.”
Senate Republicans and a four-member breakaway groups of Democrats, the Independent Democratic Conference, share control of the chamber, and the caucus’ leaders must agree on which bills come to the floor. IDC members are pro-choice but have not pushed for a vote on the bill, arguing there are not enough votes for passage. Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, the only woman IDC member, released a statement Friday denouncing the hoopla that has surrounded the abortion provision.
“Why does she want to shield legislators from telling the women of this state what their position is?” Cuomo asked.
He extended the blame for blocking a vote on the bill to the IDC. Cuomo said New Yorkers deserve to know where their legislative representatives stand on the controversial issue.
“The complication this year, with this configuration, is normally it’s clear who is stopping a vote,” Cuomo said, referring to the new makeup of the Senate. “Here, you have two parties stopping a vote, in essence. They want to say they’re not and point the finger at the other guy, and the truth is, in some ways, they’re both stopping the vote. And I believe the vote should be taken so there is clarity.”
The governor said he was not surprised by Republicans’ response yesterday to the suggestion of changing the abortion piece, which supporters argue would simply codify Roe v. Wade into state law. Critics, particularly conservatives and the Catholic Church, contend the bill would expand access to late-term abortion and allow non-doctors to perform the procedure.
“I can disagree with their policy position, but the Republicans in the Senate have been wholly consistent on their position, right? They said from day one that they did not want to take this vote, they did not want to take the public finance vote, so they have been consistent,” Cuomo said. “I disagree fundamentally, but they’ve been consistent.
“Where I disagree is when the discussion gets clouded and the proposal gets mischaracterized. The proposal does not extend anything. It doesn’t extend late-term, it doesn’t extend partial-birth — all these controversial, frightening concepts. It just codifies Roe v. Wade, and you’re pro-life or you’re pro-choice. And people deserve clarity on your position,” he finished.