Posted at: 02/13/2013 11:56 PM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - Long before, and ever since, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe versus Wade four decades ago, the abortion issue has divided the country. Ever since Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed his Reproductive Health Act proposal at last month's State of the State Address, the issue has been front and center on New York's political radar screen.
On Wednesday, a new poll released indicating New Yorkers, as you might imagine, have strong views on abortion. Pro-life factions are using those survey results to try to convince people that the governor is out of the political mainstream on the issue. Pro-choice groups say the survey is meant to confuse voters and mislead state lawmakers into thinking New Yorkers are anti-choice.
In his State of the State Address January 9th, there was no mistaking where Mr. Cuomo stood on reproductive rights for women.
"It's her body, it's her choice," the governor proclaimed emphatically three times, to the cheers of the audience.
"The governor has put this issue in play," insists Kathleen Gallagher, director of Pro-Life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, "Saying that New York needs more abortion is like saying taxpayers need to pay more taxes, it's really absurd."
Gallagher, whose current mission is to make sure lawmakers reject the Reproductive Health Act, says poll results should send a strong message to government officials that New Yorkers don't want more abortion in the state."
Among the results cited: 66% of New Yorker think there's already sufficient access to abortion in the state, and only 17% approve of unlimited abortion on demand through the 9th month of pregnancy.
"This isn't about access or women having more access," says Tracey Brooks, CEO and president of Family Planning Advocates of New York State.
Brooks says the purpose of the bill is to make sure New York is consistent with federal law by guaranteeing every woman has the right to have an abortion, by allowing early abortions to be performed by licensed medical providers other than doctors, and to regulate abortion as a public health practice rather than as a potential crime.
"At the end of the day, when we talk about people being able to have the option of the full range of medical care that they need, it's that woman and her family, and her support network that makes the best decision, not politicians."
Gallagher wants to see the state move in a different direction.
"Let's say to that frightened, pregnant, vulnerable woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, we can offer you more than just an abortion," Gallagher suggests, "Let's offer her some real options. Let's offer her some assistance with carrying her baby to term."
Brooks says polls have shown that about 70% of New Yorkers support the Reproductive Health Act.