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Politics and Government

Women's groups say abortion rights vote still possible

Women’s groups say they have not given up on an abortion rights bill passing in the final days of the legislative session, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has introduced the Women’s Equality Act as 10 separate bills.

Tracey Brooks, president of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, says women’s groups are asking Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos to bring the abortion rights measure to the floor as a stand alone bill. Brooks says Skelos pledged two years ago to allow what's known as a vote of conscience on social issues where senators are divided.

“We are holding him to that,” said Brooks. “We are asking the senator to allow his conference to vote their conscience.”

The women’s groups say they now have three days, before the bills are scheduled to be voted on Friday, to gain one or two yes votes from Republican senators in order to pass the measure.

The abortion rights provision is sponsored by Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat and a member of the break away Democratic faction that rules the Senate along with the Republicans.

The 10 individual bills also means that the other nine provisions could pass both houses and become law. Those include pay equity, paid maternity leave, and anti-sexual harassment measures, among other things. But the women’s groups say they still want all 10 to pass and they aren’t backing down.

A spokeswoman for Skelos says the GOP position opposing the abortion rights provision “has not changed."

“We expect to pass nine of the 10 elements of the governor's women's equality agenda, however, we continue to oppose bringing the abortion provision to the floor,” said spokeswoman Kelly Cummings, in a statement.