ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The often contentious New York Senate clashed Thursday over whether women are solely responsible for bearing children.
The child-bearing statement was part of a Democratic proclamation to name Jan. 22-28 “Reproductive Rights and Justice Week” but the Republican majority edited it out.
Republicans used red lines to strike through 10 entire paragraphs of the 12-paragraph proclamation, and renamed it “Women’s Health Week.”
They gutted support for abortion rights, contraception and “medically accurate sexuality education,” accusing the Democrats of political grandstanding by proclaiming opinions rather than facts as required under Senate rules for the publicly funded proclamations.
In the end, both sides could only agree on one thing in the Democrats’ proclamation:
“Women comprise more than half of the population of the United States of America.”
Democrats can resubmit the proposal, but they said they won’t settle for the revised version. Neither abortion rights, nor contraception nor sex education are heated issues in New York state, but Democratic senators said these issues are under attack nationally and the proclamation would serve as a state endorsement.
Senate Republicans have supported reproductive rights in the past but the proclamation as presented could have put them in a difficult position as they run for election in a state with a 2-to-1 registered Democratic voter advantage. Republican presidential candidates are also roiling the abortion, contraception and sex education debates nationally.
“The Senate minority’s claims are pure politics,” said Republican majority spokesman Mark Hansen. “The Senate Majority never rejected their resolution. The Democrats agreed with us that their proposed resolution didn’t adhere to guidelines, agreed on by the majority and minority because it was based on opinions, not facts.”
Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy denied that Democrats agreed the proclamation violated rules.
“That’s a cop out to say it’s political,” said the proclamation’s co-sponsor, Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, a Queens Democrat.
“We’re saying ‘Are you kidding?”‘ said Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat. “What are they afraid of?”
The furor came despite little chance the proclamation would be approved if it got to the Senate floor. Democrats said not even all of their conference would support it.
Republicans have a 32-30 majority. The majority has power over legislation and resources in Albany. Democrats held a 32-30 majority but lost it in the 2010 elections after power grabs by each side that gridlocked the chamber for weeks.