Cuomo demands Senate reconvene to vote on abortion rights measure

Jul 9, 2018

Hours before President Donald Trump announced his choice to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Gov. Andrew Cuomo railed against the selection. He also signed an executive order to help protect the reproductive choice rights of New York’s women should a future court overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.


Gov. Cuomo rallies with reproductive rights advocates Monday in New York City.
Credit Gov. Cuomo's office

Cuomo, speaking at a rally attended by women’s groups who support the right to choose abortion, said the Supreme Court already has become a “rubber stamp” for Trump, upholding his administration’s travel ban for people from some Muslim majority countries, and approving what Cuomo said are the president’s “anti-union” sentiments in the recent Janus decision that makes it harder for unions to collect dues from nonmembers who benefit from union contracts.

And, he said, it’s going to get even worse.

“Mark my words, they are moving to roll back Roe v. Wade, that is going to be the next move by this president,” Cuomo said. “They say it! It’s not like you have to read the tea leaves.”

He said Trump wants to take the nation back 45 years to the early 1970s, before Roe v. Wade was decided.

“Before women had the constitutional legal protection to control their own bodies,” Cuomo said.

The governor signed an executive order that he said will protect women’s reproductive rights; it forbids health care companies from denying coverage for contraceptives.

Cuomo also backs a measure, known as the Reproductive Health Act, or RHA, which would codify the rights in the Roe v. Wade case into New York law. Abortion has been legal in New York since 1970, but advocates for the Reproductive Health Act say the law is limited and outdated and needs to be modernized.

The RHA passed in the Democratic-led State Assembly but has stalled in the state Senate, which has been led for the past several years by Republicans with the help of some breakaway Democrats.

Cuomo accused the Republican senators of drinking “the Trump Kool-Aid.” And he called on the GOP to reconvene at the Capitol and pass the measure — or face consequences in November.

“You either come back and protect a woman’s right to choose and respect a woman’s reproductive health rights,” Cuomo said, “or the voters are going to say to you in November, ‘You’re with Trump? Well, you’re fired from the New York State Senate.’ ”

Critics of the governor, including his Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon, said Cuomo did not do enough during the past few election cycles to get more Democrats elected to the Senate to pass the Reproductive Health Act.

Nixon, along with Democratic Senate candidates who are challenging some of the breakaway Democrats in primaries, say Cuomo also tacitly supported the members of the Independent Democratic Conference who helped the GOP maintain control of the Senate. Cuomo denies the accusations.

A spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans, Candice Giove, answered Cuomo’s charges, saying in a statement that, “Women's health issues deserve more than political stunts with stolen one-liners from ‘The Apprentice.’ ”

Giove said the Reproductive Health Act would allow nondoctors to perform abortions and also waters down rights for pregnant women who are physically abused.

And Giove said Cuomo is so “frightened” of challenger Nixon that it’s the governor who has drunk “the Kool-Aid” of “radicals and socialists who now control the Democratic Party.”