New York Gov. Cuomo: No budget unless abortion made legal for any reason until birth

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers his fourth State of the State address from the New York State Capitol in Albany, New York, January 8, 2014. | (Photo: Reuters/Mike Segar)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is refusing to sign the state’s budget unless the legislature passes a bill that makes abortion up until birth for any reason legal in the state. He is also calling on the legislature to enshrine abortion as a right guaranteed in the state constitution. 

While delivering a pro-abortion speech at Barnard College in Manhattan with former first lady Hillary Clinton at his side, the 61-year-old Democrat vowed not to support the 2019-2020 state budget legislation until the state legislature approves the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act.

Cuomo’s vow comes after Democrats retook control of the New York Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. The vow also comes as the Trump administration has worked to advance pro-life policies.

Now that conservatives have a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, some abortion-proponents fear the possibility that a Supreme Court decision could one day overturn Roe v. Wade.

“The Republican senate said, ‘You don’t need a state law codifying Roe v. Wade. No administration would ever roll back Roe v. Wade,’” Cuomo said, according to The New York Times. “So help me God, this was the conversation.”

According to the language of the Reproductive Health Act: “Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child or have an abortion.” The act would also remove abortion from the state’s penal code.

According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the bill has passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly in the past but has stalled for over a decade in the Republican-led senate. Many conservatives in the senate objected to the fact that it included language that would allow non-doctors to perform late-term abortions.

The newspaper reports that the legislature is expected to approve the bill on Jan. 22, which is the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

“As many of you know, the Governor is pushing again for abortion through birth and even after with so-called ‘Reproductive Health Act.’ Now he has an anti-Life Democrat-led Senate to help him get it through,” New York State Right to Life campaign warned on Facebook Wednesday.

In a policy statement on the Reproductive Health Act, N.Y. State Right to Life explained that the legislation would lead to an increase in abortions and “expose mothers to increased dangers by removing protections currently in New York statute.”

Current law only allows duly licensed physicians to perform an abortion up to the 24th week of the pregnancy. But the Reproductive Health Act would allow any licensed health care practitioner to perform an abortion as long as the practitioner acts in “good faith,” pro-lifers have warned.

“Supporters of RHA claim it merely seeks to update New York’s laws to make them consistent with Roe v. Wade. This claim is false,” the New York State Right to Life policy statement reads. “The changes this bill would make instead would authorize abortion through all nine months, for any reason, with no restrictions.”  

Another group that is opposing the Reproductive Health Act is Feminists Choosing Life of New York, which has submitted at least six letters to The New York Times opposing the legislation.

“One point of opposition is the heinous legalization of abortion during the second and third trimester of pregnancy through the inclusion of a broad health exception allowing women to abort viable fetuses for essentially any reason; including economic or familial health,” Kelly Brunacini, a member of the group’s board of directors, wrote in one of the letters. “The vast majority of Americans, including in New York, oppose these late-term abortions. As a New Yorker, Democrat and feminist, I can’t help but wonder what history will say about a people who allowed the legalized killing of fully formed human beings for the sake of exerting political dominance.”

NY State Right to Life also contends that the bill would prevent the prosecution of illegal abortions.

“This is the opposite of pro-woman,” the organization’s statement reads.

Although the bill would enshrine the right to an abortion in state law, another vote of the state legislature would be required to kick off the amendment approval process. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, another vote of the next state legislature would be required in 2021 before the amendment could go to the voters for final approval.   

Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts CEO Robin Chappelle praised Cuomo’s pro-abortion vow.

"The threat to our health care is real and requires immediate action," Golston told the Democrat & Chronicle.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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