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New York Dems Flex Muscles, Pass Reproductive Health Act

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A re-write of New York abortion laws had been held up by Republicans for more than a decade.

On Tuesday, the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Senate Democrats passed the Reproductive Health Act, 38-24. Gov. Andrew Cuomo hoped to sign the bill later in the evening, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported.

Critics call the legislation a radical over-reach that benefits people who harm pregnant women.

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All the power in Albany is now in the hands of Democrats and they quickly moved to pass an abortion rights bill.

"We're saying here in New York, women's lives matter. We're saying here in New York, women's decisions matter," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said.

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Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Andrea Stewart-Cousins speaks during the One Fair Wage Event at the Rockefeller Foundation on Feb. 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

New York legalized abortion in 1970, three years before the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Supporters say almost 50 years later, the Empire State has simply moved to codify abortion rights, with Cuomo often pointing to new members of the high court.

"Kavanaugh is going to reverse Roe v. Wade, I have no doubt," the governor said.

But critics say the Reproductive Health Act goes beyond codifying -- to expanding.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan spoke about it Tuesday on his radio show.

"Any, any, any limit on the unfettered, unquestioned absolute right to abortion, they want none of it," Dolan said.

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Provisions in the bill include dropping most restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks, allowing midwives and nurse practitioners to perform abortions and ending criminal charges for harming children in the womb.

Livia Abreu of the Bronx lost her baby in a 2018 domestic violence attack. Charges against her ex-boyfriend, Oscar Alvarez, include abortion in the first degree.

"The passing of RHA will exonerate him from those charges. I cannot imagine living in a world where harming or killing an unborn child is not a crime," Abreu said.

Democrats say voters put them in control to pass progressive legislation -- and the Reproductive Health Act is one of the first on a long list of bills Republicans can no longer stop.

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