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Cuomo Changes Abortion Language In Proposed Women's Equality Act

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The Cuomo administration is now willing to include a ban on partial birth abortions in the proposed Women's Equality Act, to try to gain Republican votes, but many state Senate Republicans still oppose the 10-point legislation for including a section on abortion rights. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

The governor's 10-point women's equality agenda includes a provision dealing with abortion.

According to the administration, it merely codifies Roe v. Wade. Opponents, however, have seized on the abortion component, arguing that it greatly expands abortion rights in New York State and opens the door to late-term abortions.

"We've heard concerns repeatedly that we believe are mischaracterizations, but we're very open to making crystal clear, even more crystal clear, that the federal ban on partial-birth abortion remains in effect in New York today, and it will remain in effect tomorrow," said Andrea Miller of NARAL Pro-Choice.

Now, Cuomo is changing the language in the bill in an effort to attract Republican votes, specifically adding language that makes clear that partial birth abortions will not be made legal.

"If that's what it takes to move this in the New York state Senate, we're willing to put language in the bill that recognizes the federal ban," said Tracey Brooks of Family Planning Advocates of New York State.

But state Senate Republicans, who control what bills come to the floor for a vote, have stood firm against the abortion provision, and they made clear Thursday that their opposition hasn't changed.

"Look it, we're very firm on our stance. Senator Skelos that and the conference has not changed. It's not an issue that we're going to move on and we've made that very clear," said state Senate Deputy Minority Leader Tom Libous. "We're prepared to do nine points of the 10 points, and those nine points are being talked about, negotiated."

In a statement, Cuomo's spokeswoman said, "We stand with members of the Women's Coalition who favor revisions that will leave opponents no room to distort and spread misinformation."

Republican votes would be needed to pass the bill. A high-level source told NY1 that the women's rights groups have gone about getting those votes the wrong way. They didn't even hire a Republican lobbyist, for example.

Advocates countered that they have found enough Republican votes for the bill to pass.

"You know, I'm not sure the votes are there," Libous said. "People say there's votes in the conference. I think the conference is pretty firm on the issue. I don't know where those votes are."

Republican state Senator John Bonacic is someone who women's groups have floated as a vote for the bill, but he issued a statement saying the change on partial birth abortion is too little, too late. He went on to say that Cuomo should not have waited until June to release bill language.

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