As New York debates Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed bill to strengthen legal abortion, a new survey shows that 75 percent of locals oppose the bill's provision allowing non-doctors to perform abortions.
“Governor Cuomo’s proposed changes in New York's abortion laws are clearly out of the political mainstream,” Greg Pfundstein, president of the New York City-based Chiaroscuro Foundation, said Feb. 13.
“While it is difficult to imagine having even less abortion regulation in New York, Gov. Cuomo's special interest allies in the abortion lobby have come up with a few ideas, and they are all extremely unpopular.”
The Chiaroscuro Foundation commissioned the McLaughlin & Associates survey firm to poll 600 likely general election voters in New York state. The survey claims a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Almost 79 percent of respondents said there is already sufficient access to abortion in the state and 80 percent oppose allowing unlimited abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Almost 80 percent favor a 24-hour waiting period on abortion, while 76 percent favor requiring parental notification for a minor seeking an abortion.
Eighty-six percent of respondents favor regulating abortion clinics as strictly as other medical facilities.
Gov. Cuomo is pushing for the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, which would strengthen the position of legal abortion in state law.
The legislation would create a “fundamental right” for a woman to end a pregnancy.
Opponents of the bill say it would allow almost unrestricted abortion in New York including late-term abortions. The legislation would allow any licensed “health care practitioner,” including non-doctors, to perform abortions.
Pfundstein said allowing non-doctors as abortionists seems “bound to make New York less safe for women.”
“It is imperative for Governor Cuomo to listen to what pro-choice and pro-life New Yorkers actually think before he acts in haste on this radical legislative proposal,” he said.
The proposed abortion law would prevent any regulations such as parental notification for a minor considering abortion. If the legislation passes, an abortionist who kills a woman during an abortion would no longer be charged with manslaughter.
The survey of New Yorkers found that 87 percent of respondents favor providing pregnant women information about their options before the women decide whether to have abortions. Another 68 percent of respondents favor providing free medical care to mothers who carry their pregnancy to term.
Chiaroscuro Foundation spokeswoman Meg McDonnell said the survey shows “women want and deserve more choices, not more abortion.”
“New York’s elected officials should take a close look at this data and work on making abortions rarer, not more commonplace and more dangerous,” she said. “Those pushing for this legislation are far out of the mainstream and they need to be called on it.”
Critics say the bill’s conscience protections are so narrow that they could bar continued state funds to hospitals and clinics if they refuse to perform abortions. Some provisions could decertify Catholic hospitals on the grounds they “discriminate” by not performing or referring for abortions.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City in a Jan. 9 letter to Gov. Cuomo voiced “great disappointment” with the governor’s decision to propose the legislation, saying the move would increase New York’s “scandalous” abortion rate.
“There was a time when abortion supporters claimed they wanted to make abortion 'safe, legal and rare,'” he said.
The bill could face insurmountable opposition in the New York Senate, but advocates on both sides of the bill are working hard to secure allies.
The Chiaroscuro Foundation is one of the many groups working to reduce the abortion rate in New York City, which has one of the highest abortion rates in the country. Over 40 percent of pregnancies in the city end in abortion, almost twice the national average. The abortion rate is especially high among pregnant African-American women in the city, with 60 percent having abortions.
Results for the foundation’s full poll of New Yorkers are available at the website NYC41percent.com.