Four main rivals for the highest office in the city joined forces Wednesday to push for a state law that would expand late-term abortion rights. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Would-be competitors in next year's mayoral election joined forces at City Hall Wednesday to push for a state law that would expand abortion rights, to make late-term abortions legal not just when the mother's life is threatened, but also when pregnancy prevents the mother from getting treating serious health problems.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Comptroller John Liu and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer joined advocates who say current law is too narrowly written.
Currently, late-term abortions are only allowed if the mother faces imminent death, and not other health problems where treatment cannot proceed if the woman is pregnant.
The elected officials said New York State, once a leader in abortion rights, has fallen behind, even prompting some women, they said, to leave the state for the procedure late in their pregnancies.
"I don't want the City Council speaker, the mayor, the governor, the president, the Congress, I don't want anybody involved, you know, in my uterus, my vagina, my liver, my kidney, my lung. None of it," said Quinn.
"It's often something like a cancer diagnosis, renal failure, or some other issue that is considered a health issue that needs to be treated, it's not as though she's in danger of death immediately," said Sabrina Shulman of NARAL New York.
The bill also removes the mother's criminal liability in all cases, but still restricts doctors from non-health-related late-term abortions.
Opponents say "women's health" is a vague term that can be exploited and drive up abortion rate they call alarmingly high already.
In 2010, 37 percent of pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion. Statewide, it was just under 30 percent.
"Elected officials like to say that they want to make abortion safe, legal and rare. Well, this is a bill that moves us in the opposite direction," said Kathleen Gallagher of the New York State Catholic Conference.
The bill lacks support from Republican-controlled State Senate. A spokesman there said the majority is focused on jobs and taxes.
That creates a bleak outlook the measure will be passed before the legislative session ends next month, and the lobbying campaign from city Democrats is seen as having limited influence to change that.
One person who does have clout is Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's a longtime financial contributor to senate Republicans, and a longtime supporter of abortion rights. Aides say that he does back this bill, but declined to say whether he intends to lobby Republicans about it.