ALBANY — New York's Senate Republicans who can block legislation are slamming Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to expand abortion rights as an extreme measure from the radical left.
"I think this is not a well-thought-out piece of legislation," said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County. "The bottom line is, in New York state, abortion is legal, it's safe."
Cuomo hasn't yet issued his bill with all the details of his proposal, but he calls for ending what he calls discrimination and government interference against women in making choices about their bodies and would move abortion into health law, out of criminal statutes. The proposal has strong support in the Assembly's Democratic majority.
"I don't understand what the issue is," Skelos said two weeks after Cuomo made the proposal a rousing part of his State of the State speech. "In New York state, you have Medicaid spending on abortion, there is no parental consent, there is no parental notification, you can pretty much have an abortion any time you want ... I think it's really a non-issue."
Cuomo packaged the abortion rights measure in a women's rights package that included proposals to assure equal pay, workplace rights, and bills combating abuse against women. At this point, Cuomo has tied all the measures together, requiring the Legislature to approve all or none of the proposals.
He repeated his support for greater abortion protections three times in his State of the State speech, shouting and jabbing his finger to the cheering audience: "Because it's her body, it's her choice!"
After Skelos' comments, Cuomo appeared to downplay the magnitude of his proposal, which he had likened during his earlier speech to his landmark measure in 2011 that legalized same-sex marriage.