New York’s gubernatorial candidates adhered to party lines in weighing in on the Supreme Court’s draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate federally mandated abortion rights. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said she was “horrified” by the report. And Republican candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin stuck to the GOP narrative attacking the “leaked” report, while his opponent Andrew Giuliani expressed support for the expected ruling.
“We have been fighting this battle for too long. I refuse to go backwards. I refuse to let my new granddaughter have to fight for the rights generations have fought for and won, rights that she should be guaranteed,” Hochul said in a statement released Monday, vowing that “New York will always be a place where abortion rights are protected and where abortion is safe and accessible.”
The draft decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito and reported by Politico late Monday, would eliminate federally protected abortion rights established in 1973, putting them in the hands of state lawmakers.
With gubernatorial primaries just weeks away, the issue is likely to become a major talking point for candidates. In New York, the Democratic pro-choice ideology is shared by the majority of voters across various religions. A 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center found the majority of mainline Protestants, Jews, Catholics and nonreligious New Yorkers supported legalizing most abortions. Evangelical Protestants were the only group polled that opposed abortion, with 60% saying it should not be legal.
A more recent poll, by Siena College in 2019, also found that the majority of New York voters on both sides of the political spectrum supported making state laws consistent with the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established abortion rights nationally. The state formally codified Roe v. Wade and expanded abortion rights that year via the Reproductive Health Act.
Moderate candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination Rep. Tom Suozzi was also outspoken about his concerns regarding the SCOTUS decision, but notably mentioned the leak, tweeting: “The Supreme Court’s leaked majority opinion to overturn Roe v Wade would have devastating consequences for women in this country. We must codify reproductive freedom and ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible.” Suozzi has faced criticism from abortion rights advocates in the past. In his 2006 campaign for governor, pro-choice advocates denounced Suozzi’s opposition to “partial-birth abortions,” The New York Times reported. However, the same group behind the criticism, NARAL Pro-Choice, endorsed him a decade later in his 2016 campaign for Congress.
Progressive gubernatorial candidate, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, described the SCOTUS opinion as “callous and political,” while calling on state leaders not to “hesitate, before fighting to preserve this right,” he tweeted. Previously, Williams has made conflicting statements on his abortion views – a position that has dogged his progressive record for years. Speaking about his personal experience when a woman he was dating had an abortion, Williams in 2013 lamented what he said was a lack of fathers’ rights in making decisions about abortions: “After having the pregnancy terminated there is no space I think for fathers to express that kind of pain,” he said, according to Politico. At the same time, he said he opposed overturning Roe v. Wade.
Zeldin, who had yet to make an official public statement on the matter but is staunchly pro-life, subscribed to the emerging GOP narrative attacking the premature release of the SCOTUS decision when asked by City & State for comment. “The unprecedented leak that came out of the U.S. Supreme Court is very concerning and needs to be investigated. Accountability must follow,” he said in a statement released by his campaign, referring to the fact that Politico obtained the draft decision before it was officially released by the court.
Giuliani, meanwhile, tweeted: “Yesterday’s Supreme Court outcome, in overturning a fundamentally flawed case, was an important step in protecting our most vulnerable Americans,” he wrote, adding that he was “disgusted a few years ago when late term abortion, up until the moment of birth, became legal and celebrated by lighting up the Empire State Building,” repeating a factually incorrect claim proliferated by former President Donald Trump. In reality, New York allows abortions within 24 weeks of the commencement of a pregnancy or when “there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health."
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