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Abortion debate continues on Albany

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Abortion debate continues on Albany
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The debate over abortion rights continues at the state Capitol. Much of it centers around specific parts of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Women's Equality Act, which has yet to be introduced. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo's push to strengthen the state's abortion laws is running into a wall of opposition in the State Senate. In multiple interviews this week, including on Capital Tonight, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos reiterated he would not bring an abortion rights bill up for a vote.

“We feel it’s an extension of late-term abortion up until the point of birth,” Skelos said. “This would make it even more extreme. I don't believe that abortion is necessary at the point of birth.”

Cuomo is pushing an overall women's agenda that includes measures meant to curb domestic violence, workplace and housing discrimination along with human trafficking. But the governor also wants to enhance abortion laws by what he calls codifying the Roe Versus Wade decision.

“I understand Senator Skelos is opposed to it. He has been not just this year, he's been opposed to the choice vote for many, many years. I understand that,” Cuomo said.

Despite proposing the plan back in January, Cuomo has not released specific bill language yet on his proposal. He says he's working with women's groups to craft a package that can pass both houses of the legislature.

Cuomo said, “It's not a question of language. It's a question of language that can garner enough votes to pass.”

While there's Republican opposition in the Senate to the plan, several Democratic senators are also opposed to abortion, making passage more difficult.

“I think more than any, we need a calculator because we need the votes to pass women's reproductive health and that last I checked, we don't have 32 Democrats to pass it,” said Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

But Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins believes an abortion rights bill can pass and will gain Republican support, pointing out that the state's original abortion law did receive GOP backing.

Stewart-Cousins said, “When we passed the bill that allowed for abortion in 1970, we had Republican votes. I believe we will have Republican votes.”

For now, Cuomo says he's focused on passing his entire women's rights agenda, including an abortion rights bill. Supporters insist that component won't be dropped.

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