NY abortion expansion fails amid Catholic opposition

New York City, N.Y., Jun 19, 2013 / 12:07 am (CNA).- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed bill to dramatically expand legal abortion in the state died in the state senate following months of Catholic and pro-life opposition.

The four-senator Independent Democratic Coalition, which has a power-sharing agreement to control the senate with the Republican Party, declined to introduce the abortion measure as part of Gov. Cuomo’s 10-point “Women’s Equality Agenda” measures.

The Republican co-leader of the senate, Sen. Dean Skelos, is pro-life. He said he would not allow a bill with the abortion plank to reach the floor, the New York Post reports.

Jeff Klein, who leads the Independent Democratic Coalition, said the coalition supports abortion rights but could not find the votes to pass it.

Gov. Cuomo, a Democrat, criticized the breakaway coalition. He warned in a radio interview that the issue would play a role in their re-election campaigns, according to Bloomberg News.

Cuomo is a possible presidential candidate in 2016. He is a Catholic but has strongly backed abortion rights despite Church teaching that abortion takes an innocent life.

The New York Catholic Conference strongly opposed the bill, saying the expansion of abortion is “unnecessary and harmful.”

“Rather than voting on a bill that will increase the tragedy of abortion for both women and children, we urge policy makers to look at constructive ways to reduce abortion and truly make abortion 'rare,'” the conference said June 10.

The proposal would have declared abortion to be a “fundamental right.” It would have allowed any licensed “health care practitioner,” including non-doctors, to perform abortions. It would have barred any abortion regulations such as parental notification for a minor considering abortion, while also decriminalizing abortions after 24 weeks into pregnancy when a woman’s health was in danger.

The legislation would also have protected abortionists who kill women during abortions from being charged with manslaughter.

Proponents of the bill contended that it simply codifies federal law, but the New York Catholic Conference said this was “disingenuous and misleading.”

They noted that Pennsylvania convicted the late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell for performing 21 abortions after the 24-week limit, but the New York would explicitly legalize these abortions.

The New York proposal would “make New York a safe haven for late-term abortionists like Gosnell, encouraging them to set up clinics here, without fear of prosecution, to prey upon vulnerable women and children.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan had criticized the bill in January, warning it would increase New York’s “scandalous” abortion rate.

Other pro-life groups, including Democrats for Life of America, opposed the bill.

New York state has one of the highest abortion rates in the nation. Over 40 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion, almost twice the national average.

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