Women’s groups have agreed to amend abortion rights language in a women’s equality bill to clarify that the late-term abortion procedure known as partial birth abortion will continue to be illegal in New York.
Several Republican senators said they couldn’t support a proposal to codify into New York state law the abortion rights afforded to women in the federal Roe v. Wade decision. They said they feared it would promote late term abortions, including partial birth abortion, which are currently illegal in the U.S.
Andrea Miller, of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, says the women’s groups and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have agreed to add language to the bill that clarifies that the late term abortion procedure would continue to be outlawed in the state.
“We said, ‘Ok, if that’s really your concern, then we understand,’” Miller said. “Because we’ve always intended it to be clear that the federal ban applies today, and it will apply tomorrow if this is passed.”
Miller says that the change will mean that “hopefully we can move forward and make history together.”
One Republican senator said to be potentially leaning towards voting for the bill, Sen. John Bonacic, called the amendment smart but says it is “too little, too late." Bonacic says he prefers to focus on the other nine points in the 10-point Women’s Equality Act that do not address abortion.
Kelly Cummings, a spokeswoman for Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, issued a statement in reaction to the news.
“From the start, we've said that what the governor is proposing is either unnecessary or an extreme measure that expands late-term abortion. Nothing has changed,” Cummings said. “We remain confident, however, that an agreement can be reached on the other nine points of the overall proposal, allowing us to achieve passage of a strong women's equality agenda for New York.”
Opponents, including the religious-based New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, called the last minute bill language change an “unholy Hail Mary” and predicts that no votes will be changed.