Former U.S. Secretary of State and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton joined New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday to promote plans to codify abortion rights in state law in the new legislative session.
The Democrats were joined by the state’s lieutenant governor, lawmakers and women’s rights activists in New York City. Cuomo, who is in his first days of his third four-year term, says New York will pass the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act within a month. The governor says New York needs to codify the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision – which protected a woman’s right to an abortion – because the now conservative-leaning high court will overturn the 1973 ruling.
“[Justice Brett] Kavanaugh is going to reverse Roe v. Wade,” Cuomo said. “I have no doubt. [Justice Neil] Gorsuch is going to reverse Roe v. Wade. I have no doubt. So what do we do? Protect ourselves. Pass a state law that is a prophylactic from the federal action.”
With Democrats now in control of both chambers of the state legislature, Cuomo is pushing for immediate action on the legislation.
“We do the budget in April,” Cuomo said. “I will not pass a budget until the Reproductive Health Act and the contraceptive care act are passed.”
Cuomo also says he wants to pass a state constitutional amendment that protects a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health.
“We’ll pass it next year, we’ll put it on the ballot, we’ll write it into the constitution,” Cuomo said to applause.
The Reproductive Health Act has passed in the Assembly numerous times, but has stalled in the Republican-led Senate. But backers of the legislation say it will succeed after Democrats wrested control of the Senate in November. Deborah Glick, a Manhattan Democrat, is the act’s lead sponsor in the Assembly.
“The Reproductive Health Act will move abortion out of the criminal code and into the public health law where it belongs,” Glick said. “In addition, women will not be forced to carry a nonviable fetus to term. A woman’s health as well as her life will be protected under New York state law. Finally, health practitioners acting within the lawful scope of practice will be able to provide appropriate reproductive health services.”
Secretary Clinton, who lives in Westchester County and represented New York in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009, says women’s rights in the U.S. are facing the most significant threats in recent memory. In her remarks, Clinton took aim at the administration of her 2016 opponent, President Donald Trump.
“This administration has rolled back access to reproductive health services at home and around the world,” Clinton said. “And proposed cuts to international health, development and diplomacy that put both women’s lives and our national security at risk.”
Cuomo and other Democrats are also calling for the passage of the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act. Supporters say it would provide insurance coverage for FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices and products. Like the Reproductive Health Act, versions of the CCCA have passed the Assembly before stalling in the Senate, despite having a Republican sponsor, the now retired John Bonacic of the 42nd district.