Pro-Life Pushback Seen In Assembly Floor Debate

Over the past month, pro-life New Yorkers have experienced two setbacks. First, the New York State Assembly passed the Pregnancy Center Report Bill (Bill S.470-Hoylman/A.5499-Glick) on April 4, 2022; the bill awaits action in the State Senate. Second, the 2022-2023 state budget includes an abortion insurance mandate. While these setbacks are very real, pro-life New Yorkers can be encouraged by the vocal opposition of pro-life members of the legislature.

On April 4, 2022, multiple legislators spoke out against the Pregnancy Center Report Bill. After questioning the bill’s sponsor, Asm. Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan), at length about the purpose of the legislation, Asm. Marjorie Byrnes (R-Caledonia) said: “I do believe that this bill [places] an onerous burden on lawful organizations purely to target them because individuals in this chamber disagree with their philosophy and their belief in the sanctity of life… I believe it’s the intention of this bill to intimidate, [to] silence and to shut down opposing points of view…” Asm. David DiPietro (R-East Aurora) echoed Asm. Byrnes’s sentiments in a searing denunciation of the legislation: “This is a bill that [basically] says, ‘If you’re not for abortion, you’re going to get shut down… If you’re pro-life, shut up.’” Asm. DiPietro added, “This bill needs to go in the trash heap where it belongs.” Asms. Jeff Gallahan, Michael Lawler, Brian Manktelow, and John Salka also spoke against the Pregnancy Center Report Bill.

The bill did pass the State Assembly 101-45, but the fight is not over. The Senate version of the legislation, S.470-Hoylman has been assigned to the Senate Women’s Issues Committee.

On April 8, 2022, the Assembly debated the health and mental hygiene portion of the budget (Bill S.8007-C-Budget/A.9007-C-Budget). Asm. Brian Manktelow (R-Lyons) proposed the annual Butler Amendment, which would prevent the use of public funds for elective abortions. Asm. Manktelow spoke of his adopted children, mentioned the regrets that many post-abortive parents feel, and appealed to his colleagues to carefully consider the amendment. Asm. Andy Goodell (R-Jamestown) commented, “What this amendment says is [that] it’s inappropriate to ask those who believe in the sanctity of life to use their own money, through tax dollars, to fund abortions.” Sadly, the Butler Amendment failed (as it typically does). The vote on the amendment was 48-100.

Also on April 8, Asm. Goodell did a masterful job questioning Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn) about the abortion insurance mandate. Asm. Goodell asked why the mandate required that abortions be covered with no copays or deductibles when copays are required for many other health services, including maternity care. Asm. Goodell also questioned whether the mandate was legal under the New York State Constitution and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). After Asm. Weinstein was unable to come up with convincing responses, Asm. Goodell argued that the abortion mandate should be removed from the budget.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms thanks every legislator who stood for life this month.