By Jon Campbell
ALBANY An amendment that would have strengthened New York's abortion laws was narrowly blocked Friday from being considered by the state Senate.
After months of debate and a pledge from Republicans to block a bill that would cement federal abortion rights in state law, Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, attempted to force a vote by introducing a "hostile amendment" -- an occasionally used by rarely successful procedural method that allows a bill to be changed as its being debated on the floor.
Klein's amendment, which would have cemented federal abortion rights into state law, was ruled germane by Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat who was presiding over the chamber.
But Senate Deputy Republican Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, appealed the decision, and 32 senators -- the bare minimum needed -- voted it was non-germane.
The four-member Independent Democratic Conference, led by Klein, shares control of the Senate with Republicans.
Women's groups and Assembly Democrats had put increasing pressure on Klein to bring the abortion bill to the floor for a vote, but Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, remained steadfast in blocking it.
The provision was part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10-point Women's Equality Act, which was passed by the Assembly Friday. The female members of the Assembly Democratic conference suggested Friday they would only support the bill if all 10 points are passed by the Senate.
Cuomo huddled behind closed doors with women members of the Assembly. They emerged to say that they were still hopeful to get all 10 points adopted into law, but were waiting to see what action was taken in the Senate.
"We voted yesterday with the package of 10," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Binghamton. "The majority of New York voters are for the package. And that's what we told (the governor) we want to get accomplished."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the Assembly was not planning to take up the women's right agenda again Friday, despite what the Senate does.
"I don't think it's going to be possible today. If they pass a choice bill, I can assure you our members will be back here doing it," Silver said. "If they don't pass a choice bill, the governor and our members will be in dialogue and determine what route to take."