Cuomo to Phillips: Where do you stand on decriminalizing abortion

Cuomo to Phillips: Where do you stand on decriminalizing abortion
Gov. Andrew Cuomo with town and county officials at a rally in support of the Reproductive Health Act held in New Hyde Park last week. (Photo by Karen Rubin)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on eight Republican state Senators, including Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill), to state if they will return to Albany and vote to decriminalize abortion.

The message is part of a digital campaign ad. Different versions of the ad, each with a photo of one state senator, asks “Will you come back to Albany now and vote to codify Roe v. Wade into New York law?”

The ad begins with a statement claiming Roe v. Wade is under attack by President Donald Trump.

If the Supreme Court decision is overturned, a potential outcome if Trump’s conservative nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is confirmed, abortion rights fall into the hands of each individual state.

New York’s law predates the court decision by three years. It limits a woman’s reproductive rights and carries criminal penalties.

The bill Cuomo’s ad supports – the Reproductive Health Act – has passed the Assembly several times. It has never been called to a vote by the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Along with Phillips, the ad targets fellow Long Island Republicans state Sen. Carl Marcellino and state Senate Majority Leader Jon Flanagan.

If the Democrats take the majority in the state Senate in November, Cuomo’s party will be in control of what bills are called to a vote.

Efforts to reach Phillips were unavailing.

In a previous statement, Phillips said she “wholeheartedly support[s] Roe v. Wade,” but said, “this bill goes too far.”

“[The bill] threatens the health and safety of women by removing any restriction on late-term abortions, and allowing non-doctors to perform an abortion which could jeopardize a woman’s health,” Phillips said.

The Reproductive Health Act would repeal criminal abortion statutes and create a new section of public health law to regulate abortion.

It would also expand current law to allow nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and other health care professions to provide abortion services, and include exceptions to abortion law to protect a woman’s health and for instances of fetal non-viability.

Phillips’ democratic challenger, North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), said in a statement that she supports the governor’s call for the senate to reconvene for the vote.

“The passage of RHA and codification of Roe v. Wade has always been imperative, but that imperativeness was only intensified with the recent change to the Supreme Court,” Kaplan said. “We cannot kick the can further down the road and assume the restrictions many other states have put on reproductive health care will not happen in here in New York. With the stakes so high, the time to act is now.”

Kaplan also held a rally a couple of weeks ago, before Trump’s nominee was announced, to show support for the passage of the bill.

State Sen. Elaine Phillips has previously said she is pro-choice but not in support of the bill.
(Photo courtesy of the Office of state Sen. Elaine Phillips)

The state senate currently has a 31-31 split down party lines.

The GOP held a slim majority, due to Democrat Simcha Felder’s decision to continue caucusing with the Republicans, but near the end of the session the chamber was split evenly after GOP state Sen. Thomas Croci left when he was called for Navy duty.

While Cuomo is calling on Republicans to show support for the bill, his Democratic primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, is calling him out for not supporting the bill sooner.

“For eight years Gov. Cuomo has claimed that he was fighting or these bills, and he hasn’t,” Nixon said in a campaign video released about a week before Cuomo’s ads. “He has prioritized keeping the IDC and Republicans in control knowing they will never bring these bills up for a vote.”

In the video, Nixon similarly states Trump’s nominee will likely lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Her video is interspersed with clips of Cuomo making questionable comments about or towards women.

One, is a clip from his recent rally in New Hyde Park in support of the bill in which he stated “God told me I was a feminist when he gave me three daughters.”

Another, is of him telling a female reporter she is “doing a disservice to women,” and another of him telling a woman he’d like to see her eat “the whole sausage.”

“It is time for Gov. Cuomo to stop gaslighting New York’s women,” Nixon said.

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