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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).