Gillibrand accuses state Senate GOP of “outright censorship”

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U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand penned a letter today asking for public support against what she describes as a “vicious, sustained attack against reproductive rights and equal access to healthcare for women of all ages.” The Democratic senator gives as an example what happened last week when three state senators pushed for a resolution that would designate this week as Reproductive Rights and Justice Week.

“As 3 of only 8 female Senators, they hoped this resolution would encourage public awareness of the challenges all women face when making personal, private health decisions,” Gillibrand wrote in the letter, which was sent out by state Senate Democrats just after the Assembly passed the resolution. “In what can only be characterized as outright censorship, the GOP Majority not only refused to accept the resolution but returned it to the Senators with more than 90 percent of the language crossed out. They should be ashamed!”

Gillibrand asked people to sign an online petition telling Senate Republicans to accept the original resolution, and to join her in helping Democrats win control of the chamber in this year’s elections. She accused tea party “extremists” of leading the attack on reproductive health care. In New York, Senate Republicans are using “heavy handed, draconian measures” and backing “an agenda completely out of touch with the mainstream,” she said.

The three senators she referred to are Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers; Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, and Toby Stavisky, D-Queens.

The Senate Republican majority modified the resolution because it didn’t conform with Senate rules as was written, according to Mark Hansen, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County.

This afternoon, the Democrat-controlled Assembly adopted the Reproductive Rights and Justice Week resolution on a voice vote. A few weeks ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said one of his priorities this year is to get the Reproductive Health Act adopted by the Legislature. The legislation, first proposed in 2007 by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, would modify the state’s abortion law, which dates from before Roe v. Wade, to ensure it remained legal if the event federal law was changed.

“I never thought this despicable cause would rear its ugly head in a state like New York, but Republicans in the State Senate have swung open the doors of our government and invited in the worst offenders,” Gillibrand wrote.

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