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N.Y. GOP Senate Leader Says He Will Not Act on Gov. Cuomo's Abortion Rights Bill

N.Y. GOP Senate Leader Says He Will Not Act on Gov. Cuomo's Abortion Rights Bill

April 25, 2013 — New York Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos this week said he will block any abortion-rights measures proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), the AP/Lake Placid News reports (Gormley, AP/Lake Placid News, 4/24).

Cuomo's 2013 agenda includes a 10-point Women's Equality Act, which he has said will include a proposal called the Reproductive Health Act. The reproductive health measure has not been released, but it is expected to include a provision that would guarantee a woman's right to abortion in New York, even in the event that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is overturned (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/20).

Skelos said that there was "absolutely no need" to bring the bill to the Senate floor and that "[t]hose laws are not going to be changed in New York state." Instead, the Legislature should focus on "[w]hat people are interested in right now," including "[j]obs, taxes, [and] affordability," he said.

Meanwhile, Cuomo in a radio interview affirmed that he wants to protect abortion rights in the state and accused lawmakers of trying to avoid a vote on the issue.

Women's groups and Democratic lawmakers have prioritized the legislation. Although Skelos has the power to block action on the bill, Senate Republicans share power with a four-member Independent Democratic Conference that supports the measure.

IDC spokesperson Eric Soufer said he is recruiting other Democrats to potentially try to pressure Skelos into holding a floor vote. However, he cautioned that he does not want to "bring important bills to the floor to fail," which would be a "major setback" (AP/Lake Placid News, 4/24).