Women’s groups and Gov. Andrew Cuomo intend to tweak the abortion provision of the Women’s Equality Act to alleviate concerns that the bill might lead to partial-birth abortions in New York.
The groups pushing Cuomo’s women’s agenda have identified a few Senate Republicans with moderate voting bases as key votes to pass the bill, including Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mt. Hope, Orange County. Bonacic told Gannett’s Albany Bureau Wednesday that he is pro-choice but would not support the bill in its current form because he was worried there was “wiggle room in the language to allow” partial-birth abortion.
There is currently a federal ban on partial-birth abortion, which is a specific procedure. The bill would allow late-term abortions when a woman’s life or health is in danger, which is consistent with then 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
“Sen. Bonacic’s comments yesterday certainly set off a lot of discussion within our coalition and the groups involved, as well as with the people on the second floor, with the governor’s office,” Andrea Miller, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, told Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “As you can imagine, we’ve long been frustrated by mischaracterizations of what this language to align our state laws with Roe would do. But look, we’ve heard that apparently, it’s not clear enough.
“As much as we think that it’s very clear, and we keep reiterating that it would not change anything about the federal law that is currently in effect banning partial-birth abortion … we also understand that we’re still hearing the same concern,” she continued. “The senator said that’s his problem, his concern about partial-birth abortion. There is a federal ban in place that is effective across the nation, including in New York state today, and we hope that he can support this bill if we make crystal clear that nothing that we’re doing would affect that federal ban.
“If this is what truly is needed, which we deeply hope it is, to make even more clear — even more clear — that this will in no way affect the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, we would welcome the senators to join us in getting this historic bill passed, to say that we now have their votes, and urge again that this really does prove that it’s time to get this to the floor,” she finished.