Top N.Y. Senate Republican Challenges Reproductive Health Act

January 31, 2013 — Opposition from New York Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos could complicate Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) efforts to pass the Reproductive Health Act (S 438), North Country Public Radio reports.

Andrea Miller, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, said the legislation is needed to update the state's current abortion law, which was passed in 1970 and does not adequately protect abortion rights. The law criminalizes abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy, including when a woman's life or health is at risk.

Skelos claimed that the "main accomplishment" of the bill would be "an expansion of late term abortion and partial-birth abortion," adding that he believes it would allow a woman to have an abortion at any point in pregnancy.

State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, leader of the Senate's Democratic Conference, criticized Skelos' interpretation of the bill. "For anyone to suggest that a woman who is seven or eight months pregnant just wakes up one morning and decides they don't want to have this baby anymore is really just demonstrating a lack of understanding," she said (DeWitt, North Country Public Radio, 1/30).

Meanwhile, Cuomo on Tuesday announced that a coalition of more than 200 groups is supporting the Women's Equality Act, a package that includes the Reproductive Health Act (Reisman, YNN, 1/29).