ALBANY, NY, May 6, 2014 ( – A bill championed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that would have radically expanded abortion in the state has died in a Republican-controlled state Senate committee.

The Reproductive Health Act (S. 438), introduced by Democratic conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, failed a vote in the Senate Health Committee by a party-line vote of 9-7.

While the Associated Press described the bill – which was heavily supported by Cuomo, Planned Parenthood, and the state chapter of NOW – said the bill sought to merely “update New York abortion law to match federal law,” critics said it would do much more than that.


“The Governor’s proposal is much more radical, and would expand abortion rights beyond current federal and state law,” said Edward Mechmann of the Archdiocese of New York. “It would remove any obstacles to late-term abortions, and would allow non-doctors to do surgical abortions, even late-term abortions up until the moment of birth.”

In addition to allowing abortions to be performed by any “qualified, licensed healthcare practitioner” such as a nurse practitioner or midwife, the RHA sought to expand abortions after 24 weeks for the mother's “health,” a nebulous term that in practice allows abortion under any circumstances.

It would have also forced all hospitals to refer patients for abortion or lose state funding, according to the New York State Right to Life Committee.

“By continuing to push for an extreme and dangerous proposal that would allow non-doctors to perform abortions right up to the day of a baby's birth, the Senate Democrats have once again put party politics over the health and safety of New York’s women,” said Kelly Cummings, the Republican Senate spokeswoman. “We won't let reckless Senate Democrats jeopardize the health and safety of women, nor will we let them endanger their basic reproductive health just to make a political statement.”

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Governor Cuomo included a version of the bill in his 10-point Women's Equality Agenda last year, likening late-term abortion to the Bill of Rights. It passed the state Assembly last June by a 97-47 vote. The abortion component, however, failed to move forward thanks to opposition from a bipartisan coalition in the state Senate.

Cuomo later lashed out that people who support the “right to life…have no place in the State of New York.”

The nine state senators who voted against the measure are: Greg Ball, Hugh T. Farley, Simcha Felder, Martin J. Golden, Kemp Hannon, William J. Larkin Jr., Jack M. Martins, James L. Seward, and Catharine Young.