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April 27, 2013

Cuomo's abortion bid stirs debate

(Continued)

“It would guarantee the protections we have right now should the Supreme Court strike it down” and leave the abortion issue to the states, Marcus said.

Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, the lobby group for the bishops, accused Cuomo of “challenging the Legislature to accept a bill he hasn’t even shown them yet.”

“Very clearly, this 10-point plan is all about the 10th point — abortion,” Poust said. “It would never pass on its own, and Gov. Cuomo understands that, which is why he has packaged it in this way.”

“We fear that the governor’s ultimate bill will expand access to late-term abortions and allow non-physicians to perform abortions,” Poust added. “Those things were both in the Reproductive Health Act ( a measure sponsored by some Democratic senators that has not reached the floor of the upper chamber).”

Poust said the Catholic Conference has strong concerns about taking abortion language out of the Penal Law. For instance, he said, the current law imposes sanctions on violent assailants who assault a pregnant woman and end the life of the fetus.

“You would take away the ability to charge for the death of the unborn baby,” he said.

In a radio interview this week, Cuomo complained that “many of the legislators want to have it both ways.” He also argued their response to his proposal was governed by political considerations.

“They want to be pro-choice, but they don’t want to be on the other side of the Conservative Party,” Cuomo said. That was a reference to the fact that many Republican lawmakers, including Seward and Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie — and even some Democrats — run with the cross endorsement of the small but influential Conservative Party, which opposes abortion.

In addition to his call for stronger abortion protections, Cuomo said in January the “women’s agenda” legislation he plans to introduce would also:

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