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Health Committee kills reproductive health act in narrow vote

May 06, 2014
The Senate Health Committee voted down controversial abortion rights bill Tuesday, killing the Reproductive Health Act before it reached the Senate floor for a full vote.

The bill, which would codify state abortion laws to more closely match federal regulations, would permit abortion procedures to be performed by nurse practitioners and would expand late term abortions for women whose lives are considered by a doctor to be in danger.

The measure, which is staunchly opposed by conservatives, was defeated 9 votes to 8.

Following the bill's defeat, Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins released a statement insisting, "Women's health is not a Republican or Democratic issue. The women of New York deserve a vote and deserve to know where their elected officials stand on these important issues."

In 1970, Stewart-Cousins said, 12 Republicans joined a Democratic majority to first pass reproductive health legislation.

Republicans have remained immovable on the issue of abortion expansion ever since the introduction of Gov. Andew Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda, a comprehensive package focusing on women's rights and equality issues, which failed to pass last session. While the Assembly passed the measure as an omnibus 10-bill package, Republicans in the Senate split the package into ten separate bills passing all but the abortion expansion bill.

Kelly Cummings, spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans, said Republicans "won't let reckless Senate Democrats jeopardize the health and safety of women, nor will we let them endanger their basic reproductive health just to make a political statement."

"Sadly, by insisting on passage of this extreme measure, the Senate Democrats and their allies have obstructed passage of our Republican women's agenda, which mirrors what Gov. Cuomo proposed," she added in a statement after the vote.

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