Governor Andrew Cuomo’s insistence that his Women’s Equality Act include abortion expansion is “completely counterproductive,” Nicole Malliotakis, a New York assemblywoman representing areas in Brooklyn and Staten Island tells National Review Online. “To say this is a discussion about pro-choice versus pro-life is missing the forest for the trees. This is a discussion about expanding late-term abortion, which 80 percent of New Yorkers oppose.”
NATIONAL REVIEW: What do you make of Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, unveiled in its final form this week?
NICOLE MALLIOTAKIS: It is a 59-page piece of legislation with 57 pages of good ideas to strengthen laws on domestic violence, housing discrimination, pay equity, human trafficking, and prostitution, and two pages of political posturing. In a ten-point bill; nine points are issues most legislators would agree upon, but the tenth point, which would expand abortion, creates a political wedge. Furthermore, if New York State government wants to tackle women’s rights and equity issues, we should first do so in our own house. Our primary focus should be the removal of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has been exposed for his role in multiple taxpayer-funded cover-ups of sexual abuses committed by his members and staff.
NATIONAL REVIEW: What do you wish the governor would do?
MALLIOTAKIS: I wish Governor Cuomo would consider voting on the components of his package individually, rather than playing political games with women’s equality. If he were truly serious about reforming state law to benefit women, he would pursue these measures in a more reasonable manner, which would make their passage a formality rather than a divisive political debate. I think the prevention of workplace harassment would be a great place to start.
NATIONAL REVIEW: Can senators and assembly members feeling pressure vote against the Women’s Equality Act, when they know they will be branded as anti-“choice” and worse?
MALLIOTAKIS: I have talked to many people, both legislators and constituents, who identify as pro-choice but oppose unfettered or elective late-term abortion. To say this is a discussion about pro-choice versus pro-life is missing the forest for the trees. This is a discussion about expanding late-term abortion, which 80 percent of New Yorkers oppose.
NATIONAL REVIEW: Is there something fundamentally wrong with bills of this nature – throwing way too much together, hiding the most controversial aspects in heated rhetoric?
MALLIOTAKIS: Absolutely. It’s a political ploy, put together behind closed doors with no public or legislative input. Inserting a poison pill into an otherwise positive piece of legislation doesn’t just force a legislator to take a public position on a controversial issue – it forces his or her hand on the other components he or she may feel differently about. It is completely counterproductive.
NATIONAL REVIEW: Is there something harmful about the governor’s contention that if you’re for “choice” you’ve got to sign up for his program? For one, after the Kermit Gosnell case, isn’t it becoming increasingly clear that people actually have reservations about abortion?
MALLIOTAKIS: The truly harmful component about this proposal is how far it expands legalized abortion in a state and city where abortions are already so common. No one can seriously claim that access to abortion is at all limited in New York. Expansion isn’t meant to supplement the practice; it’s meant to promote it.
NATIONAL REVIEW: Does it look to you like abortion in New York is the governor’s preference? What else can one conclude when the rates are as high as they are?
MALLIOTAKIS: Legalized abortion was around long before Governor Cuomo took office, but his expansion plan clearly illustrates his preference on the issue. In 2010, 83,000 abortions (which amounts to 40 percent of all pregnancies) were performed in New York City. This is a statistic we should all be working to reverse.