Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the last two days has rallied around the issue of abortion rights in New York, warning that President Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court could tip the balance and repeal the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
“They are going to overturn Roe v. Wade. We need a New York state law that codifies Roe v. Wade into the New York state,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo is once again pushing for the passage of the Reproductive Health Act in the Republican-controlled state Senate. The bill would shift language for abortions from the state’s penal code to the public health law, change abortion’s status as an exception to homicide and allow abortions in the third trimester of a pregnancy under certain circumstances.
“We have to say to the Republican senators who have been having it both ways for too long, ‘That's over. You're either with us or against us,’” he said.
It's unlikely the Senate will return to pass the bill as Cuomo wants and he doesn't plan to force them to come back to Albany. Instead, Cuomo is threatening to campaign against individual Republican lawmakers.
“He's using the abortion issue in a purely political manner. It has nothing to do with policy and what public policies would be best for women; it's just all about politics,” said Kathleen Gallagher, Catholic Conference pro-life activities director.
Republicans are defending key Senate districts in the Hudson Valley and Long Island this year. And if Democrats win, the party would likely have the votes to pass the RHA.
“It's very concerning to us that a shift in the majority in the New York state Senate could pass what we consider to be extreme legislation that goes far beyond Roe versus Wade,” said Gallagher.
The RHA has stalled for more than a decade and Cuomo's critics contend he could have done more to get the bill through the state Senate. His allies disagree.
“I think he's done what he's can. He put it in his executive budget and is trying to do it that way, but I think at the end of the day we need to change who runs the Senate at this point for our stuff to move forward,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts president.
Cuomo's Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon meanwhile released a video that sought to undercut Cuomo's message as a declared feminist.