Abortion rights: Why New York is swimming against the national tide
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come under fire for proposing a bill relaxing abortion controls even as many other states push restrictions. His office says the bill aims to strengthen Roe v. Wade.
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Cuomo’s office has said the legislation would not expand state laws beyond federal standards. New York State’s existing law, which was passed in 1970, currently allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy only if a woman’s life is at risk, while federal law allows late-term abortions to protect a woman’s health even if her life is not in danger.Skip to next paragraph
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The bill – one plank of a 10-part Women’s Equality Act that would also seek to install equal pay, anti-trafficking and anti-discrimination legislation – would allow licensed health-care practitioners, not just physicians, to perform abortions. It would also remove abortion from the state’s penal law and enter it into public health law.
Opponents, led by O’Reilly, have declared war on Cuomo’s proposal, saying it would be a radical expansion of abortion laws.
“Andrew Cuomo is barbaric. He’s just barbaric,” O’Reilly said on the Glenn Beck show. “It’s so barbaric that people should be rising up, but you’re not going to see it because we’re too busy on our video games. We can’t pull ourselves away.”
Later, on his own Fox News show, the conservative TV host said, “He’s behind a proposed new law that would allow abortions in New York state to be performed at any time for pretty much any reason. Cuomo wants to decriminalize all abortion activity.… I do not want my country to be a place of barbarism, and I will fight against that!”
Taking another dig at Cuomo, O’Reilly added “the fact that he says he’s Roman Catholic is just staggering,” and “if there is indeed a judgment day, he better bring a good lawyer.”
Cuomo’s Republican predecessor, former Governor Pataki, also expressed disapproval, saying the proposal amounts to “partial birth abortion.”
“It is the wrong thing to do and I hope that the legislature in its wisdom takes a hard look at this and decides that New York should not,” Pataki told conservative website Newsmax.
Even the Roman Catholic Church has weighed in.
“I am hard pressed to think of a piece of legislation that is less needed or more harmful than this one,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, said in a letter to Cuomo in January.
Cuomo’s office is fighting back, calling opponents’ claims “wildly false misinformation,” and insisting that the bill is not an expansion or radical change to existing law.
“The statements made by the opposition are outrageous and disingenuous,” Mr. Denerstein wrote in the Op-Ed. “The governor’s position is to purely codify existing federal law. To be clear, there would be no change whatsoever in law and practice now existing in the state of New York.”
The battle is just beginning for Cuomo’s bill, which to become law, must be passed by a split state legislature, including a Democratically-controlled House and a Senate dominated by a coalition of Republicans.