Gov. Andrew Cuomo and women’s rights group on Tuesday will detail plans to codify abortion rights in New York, making it consistent with federal law.
With a rally and a news conference with Cuomo on Tuesday, women’s groups are making a final effort this year to build support for a women’s equality agenda that proponents have been seeking for several years. The legislative session ends June 20.
Cuomo will release his bill Tuesday. He has said since his State of the State address in January that he wants the Legislature to pass women’s rights legislation, including ensuring abortion rights are protected.
The bill would codify the Roe v. Wade federal court decision into state law and put pressure on Senate Republicans to support it.
“The bill will include a real litmus test on Roe v. Wade for members of both parties, making it impossible to vote against for anyone who wants to say they support a woman’s right to choose,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.
Senate Republicans have balked at the measure, saying it unnecessary. Several Republicans in the Senate would have to support the bill for it to become law.
“We haven’t seen the governor’s proposal yet, but we do know that it’s either an extreme measure to expand late-term abortion or an unnecessary and purely political maneuver,” said Kelly Cummings, a spokeswoman for Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County.
Cummings said Cuomo should be “focused on a strong, bipartisan women’s agenda that provides New York women with equality, safety and financial well-being in the home and in the workplace.”
Cuomo’s bill would make state regulations consistent with federal law, which is less restrictive that state law. In New York, the law prohibits abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, unless it is necessary to preserve the pregnant woman’s life.
The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 allows abortions until the fetus is viable or at any time if the woman’s health or life is in danger. Viability is defined, according to federal law, as when the fetus is at least 24 weeks and is reasonably likely to survive outside the womb as determined by a physician.
Advocates said the state law is needed if the federal law was ever overturned.
Abortion opponents said a previous version of the bill, called the “Reproductive Health Act,” would increase abortion rights. They argued that parts of the bill would expand who could perform abortions and penalize religious institutions who oppose abortion. Yet Cuomo’s bill isn’t expect to address those changes.