Bills that would expand abortion rights and institute campaign finance reform are likely to die in Albany before the state legislature adjourns on Thursday, thanks to a coalition of Republicans and a handful of Democrats that together control the Senate. "This has been an ugly few weeks here in Albany, and it has shaken the public trust,” Governor Cuomo said yesterday.
The abortion planks of the Women's Equality Act would allow abortions after 24 weeks into a pregnancy if the health of a woman is at risk, and further solidify abortion rights in New York State law. The campaign reform bill would lower contribution limits and establish a public financing system to make the process of running for office more democratic.
Democratic Senator from the Bronx, Jeff Klein, heads the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of four Democrats who refuse to caucus with the members of their party, because why do that when you can manipulate all the leverage?
Klein explained to the Wall Street Journal why his office released a version of the Women's Equality Act minus the abortion legislation:
"If there really was a threat nationally to Roe v. Wade, if the Supreme Court overturned it tomorrow, then yeah, then I would say we have a problem with this coalition, because if I was not able to bring a bill to the floor to make sure that New York still is protected under the decision of Roe v. Wade, that's a problem. But that doesn't exist."
Actually, abortion rights have been under siege across the country, and Republicans in Congress have gone to unprecedented lengths to push the issue. From the Times' report on page A1 yesterday:
"These laws are flying through,” said Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports access to abortions. “The attention has really been at the state level around abortion issues. Now what you also see at the federal level is very disturbing, and it shows that abortion opponents are very emboldened.”
A recent poll showed that 67% of New Yorkers support the abortion legislation. Klein claims that his refusal to bring the bills to a vote boils down to pragmatism: "I don't bring bills to the floor that fail. That's not what leaders do."
David Donnelly, a founder of the progressive Super PAC Friends of Democracy, a group that has advocated for campaign finance reform, sees it differently. “They’re choosing their own relationship and power with the Republican leader over what the voters of the state want. It boils down to that: What’s more important, serving your constituents or your own power?”
A compromise that would allow casino expansion is still being debated but is expected to pass. Marijuana decriminalization passed the Assembly, but that too, is being left for dead.
Read our story about the plank of the Women's Equality Act that would fight pregnancy discrimination here.