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Cuomo abortion bill defeated in key Senate committee vote; becomes big campaign issue

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on April 16, 2013

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on April 16, 2013 in Albany. Credit: AP

ALBANY -- The chances of a bill backed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to further protect late-term abortions all but ended Tuesday.

"Women’s health is not a Republican or Democratic issue," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers). "The women of New York deserve a vote, and deserve to know where their elected officials stand on these important issues.”

She said Tuesday's vote after a politically charged debate means the bill won't get to the Senate floor this year.

The Senate Health Committee rejected the Women’s Reproductive Health Act proposal along party lines, with nine Republicans voting against the bill.

Afterward, Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) said the vote effectively ended the bill for this legislative session, which ends in June.

Democrats have some long-shot legislative maneuvers they can try, but  Republicans could rule those efforts out of order. Democrats could also petition to move the bill directly to the powerful Rules Committee, but Republicans could be expected to vote it down there as well.

Without approval in the Senate, the bill can’t become law despite support by Cuomo and the Democrat-led Assembly.

M. Tracey Brooks, of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, which has lobbied for the bill for years, said she will have to pursue other ways to get the measure to the Senate floor.

Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), said she knew the bill would be defeated in committee and would likely be defeated in a full-floor vote. But she said the measure is still moving forward. She said the bill received its longest and highest level debate ever in the Senate on Tuesday.

Even Savino’s role in the Independent Democratic Conference which shares majority control with Republicans, wasn’t enough to move the bill to the Senate floor.

Democrats and Republicans said the measure would be a major campaign issue in this year’s legislative elections when control of the Senate will be up for grabs.

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