Cuomo: Not enough votes (yet) for Women’s Reproductive Health Act

Gov. Cuomo, delivering his State of the State address in Jan., 2013. Photo: Gov. Cuomo’s office via Flickr

At a press conference today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo conceded to reporters that he doesn’t have the votes in the Senate to pass his Women’s Reproductive Health Act. But he says he’s still trying.

Reporter Karen Dewitt asked the governor about the situation, given that state Sen. Dean Skelos has said there’s “no need” to bring the bill to a vote at all. Here’s what he said:

The topic will come to a head, the women are working very hard, the women’s groups are working very hard, and it’s going to be a topic that has to be addressed.

I believe it should come up for a vote…first I believe we should get it done, and I also believe that people have a right to know where elected officials stand on those important issues, so I’m going to be working very hard, again, to bring it to the forefront, and to get a vote and to get it passed.

I understand Sen. Skelos is opposed to it, he has been not just this year, he’s been opposed to the choice vote for many, many years. I understand that.

Cuomo said he’s NOT conceding defeat on this.

We are working on language, it’s not a question of language, it’ a question of language that can garner enough votes to pass, right? It’s not language for the sake of language…it’s a bill that can pass. And we do not yet have language for a bill where we have identified enough votes with certainty that could pass.

So it looks like the Women’s Reproductive Health Act for New York this year is still somewhat in doubt (here’s the original language of the Assembly bill, from January; as you may have surmised the Senate bill language is still in process) — and this after Cuomo gave such a rousing introduction to the act in January’s State of the State message in January.

The act’s 10-point agenda includes (quoting from YNN’s Capitol Tonight)

pay equity, curtailing sexual harassment and employment, credit and lending discrimination, strengthening human trafficking laws, ending housing discrimination of domestic abuse victims and blocking pregnancy discrimination in the workplace.

It also includes measures to strengthen the state’s abortion laws, which have been a major sticking point with Republican legislators.

So it’s not clear what’s going to happen with this bill in the future, but there seems to be something of an impasse. We shall see. More on this story tomorrow morning on the 8 O’clock Hour.


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4 Comments on “Cuomo: Not enough votes (yet) for Women’s Reproductive Health Act”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    I think all ED drugs should be taken off the market and made illegal until men start voting for women’s rights.
    Also, the Catholic Church and all religions who oppose women’s rights should lose their tax exempt status until they stop lobbying against women.

  2. Marlo Stanfield says:

    Abortion’s legal and has been since Roe v. Wade. It was legal in New York even before the Supreme Court made it so nationwide. Current New York law allows abortion pretty much unrestricted for the first two trimesters.

    I’m not sure why Cuomo sees the need to get a law passed that would further protect something that’s already pretty well protected in New York. And I don’t see why he would tie some other things that have merit, like strengthening anti human trafficking measures and other anti-discrimination measures, to unnecessary abortion provisions that he has to know have no chance of passing. Maybe because this is more about pandering to Democratic primary voters in 2016 than it is about actually getting something done for women in New York who are victims of human trafficking or who have to deal with pay discrimination or sexual harassment.

  3. dave says:

    My search skills are up not up to par this morning for some reason… I am having a hard time finding the exact language (or even a summary of the language) that attempts to strengthen abortion laws.

    Anyone have any idea exactly what these provisions are looking to do?

    I would think this language has to be fairly offensive and egregiousness to prompt people to vote against human trafficking and other protections for women… but something tells me it probably isn’t.

  4. Nora says:

    Dave, it’s not clear that the new law would increase access to abortion in NYS — although there’s no actual Senate language yet, it seems that the bill is just encoding Roe v Wade protections into law. Here’s a little bit from Karen DeWitt’s story from this morning ( that sums up the argument Sen. Skelos is making against it:

    Skelos has for weeks now labeled the abortion rights provision “extreme,” saying it would make late-term abortions more prevalent.

    “Literally up to the date of when that child would be born,” said Skelos, who says the bill would also eliminate current criminal penalties for killing a fetus if someone murders a pregnant woman.

    Backers deny that, but there is currently no actual bill that’s been written to spell out exactly what the Governor wants. Cuomo concedes he does not currently have the right formula for legislation that would garner enough votes in the Senate.

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