ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended New York’s new abortion law Wednesday after it was criticized by President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address, saying Trump and his conservative allies are lying about the law as part of a broader assault on abortion rights.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times on Wednesday, the Democrat also pushed back on Trump’s call for a ban on late-term abortion, saying he wants to roll back decades-old court rulings protecting access to the procedure.
“It’s worth recalling that in 1999, long before he ran for president, Mr. Trump described himself as “very pro-choice.” Today he claims to be anti-choice, and he shamelessly courts the religious right to win votes,” Cuomo wrote, adding, “Too much of today’s political discourse is extreme. But emotions run especially high when politics and religion intersect — as in the debate about a woman’s right to choose. As a Roman Catholic, I am intimately familiar with the strongly held views of the church. Still, I do not believe that religious values should drive political positions.”
Enacted last month, the Reproductive Health Act codifies rights laid out in Roe v. Wade and other abortion rulings. It states that a woman may abort a viable fetus after 24 weeks of pregnancy only if her life or health is at risk, restrictions on late-term abortions based on Supreme Court decisions including Roe v. Wade and subsequent rulings.
Trump did not mention those stipulations when he criticized the law in Tuesday night’s speech before Congress. Instead, the president said he wanted Congress to pass a ban on late-term abortion of fetuses that “can feel pain in the mother’s womb” – an unlikely proposition given Democratic control of the U.S. House.
Polls show a majority of Americans back the Roe decision, but public support for late-term abortion is much more complicated. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 81 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in the last three months of pregnancy. But the same poll found that 75 percent of respondents said third-trimester abortions should be legal when a woman’s life is endangered.
Studies show Nearly 90 percent of all abortions in the U.S. are performed within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) – who represents Chautauqua County in Washington, is taking the president’s side on the issue.
Reed released a statement saying the extremists in Albany and Governor Cuomo would like residents to think the new abortion laws are about solidifying the Roe vs Wade decision in New York State, but Reed said the ability to kill a baby at birth for reasons not even determined by a licensed doctor is extreme, and does not reflect the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion.