ALBANY, N.Y. — 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.
“As part of their attack on women’s rights, Mr. Trump and his allies are intentionally spreading lies about New York’s Reproductive Health Act,” Cuomo wrote. “Their goal is to end all legal abortion in our nation.”
Enacted last month, the 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.
“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth,” Trump said, referencing Cuomo’s signing of the bill last month on the anniversary of the Roe decision. “These are living, feeling, beautiful, babies who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world.”
Trump said he wants 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.
Supporters of the act said its passage was necessary in the event that today’s more conservative Supreme Court overturns Roe and subsequent abortion rulings. Several spoke out against Trump’s proposed restrictions Wednesday.
“Reducing access to reproductive health care does not protect women — it puts the health and lives of women at risk,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, the organization representing Planned Parenthood in New York.
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.
Nearly 90 percent of all abortions in the U.S. are performed within the first 12 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Trump also accused Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a physician, of saying that he would “execute a baby after birth,” following a radio interview last month in which Northam described a hypothetical situation where a severely deformed or non-viable infant could be left to die.