Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promising to quickly create a legal safety net in New York for women seeking abortions, even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns or weakens the landmark Roe v. Wade case. With Hillary Clinton by his side Monday, Cuomo spoke about his agenda at a rally at Barnard College about reproductive rights.
With women's reproductive rights coming under threat at the federal level, as President Donald Trump's attempts to remake the Supreme Court with a more conservative bend, there's a new push by New York Democrats to update the state's abortion law.
"Women's ability to get basic health care, our right to make the most deeply personal decision, is facing the most significant threats in recent memory," Clinton said at the speech.
New York's abortion law predates Roe v. Wade by three years, and it continues to reside in the state's penal code. A bill known as the Reproductive Health Act, or RHA, would change that, and make abortion more accessible.
"We have said we are going to pass it in 30 days, I believe were are going to pass it in 30 days," Cuomo said to the crowd. "Just so there is no ambiguity: We do the budget in April; I will not pass a budget unless the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Care Act are passed. Period."
The governor has also proposed a separate amendment that would enshrine a woman's right to choose state constitution for generations to come. This is something Cuomo has actually proposed before, but almost all abortion measures were successfully blocked by Republicans, who controlled the state Senate.
That changed this year. "There are 39 Democrats. 39 Democrats making up the majority of the state Senate. 14 are women," said incoming State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The Reproductive Health Act is a simple vote, and can likely get done within the first 30 days. But a constitutional amendment is a little more complicated. It would have to pass this legislature, then a new legislature in 2021 before it goes to voters in a referendum in 2022. Interestingly enough, that would be the same year Cuomo, should he choose, runs for a fourth term.
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