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New York State's proposed Equal Rights Amendment stirs debate

Opponents to the current constitutional amendment say the bill is too broad and could potentially infringe on freedom of religion, impacting Catholic organizations.

NEW YORK — Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Roe v. Wade decision last year, there has been a renewed effort to codify the right to abortion into New York's state constitution.

The Equal Rights Amendment does just that. Supporters say it also ensures gender equality.

"New Yorkers deserve a constitution that recognizes that every person is entitled to equal rights and justice under the law regardless of who they are, who they love, and what their families look like," Assembly member Rebbeca Seawright said. 

An Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in Albany nearly 85 years ago. Opponents to the current constitutional amendment, such as State Senator George Borrello, argue the bill is too broad and could potentially infringe on freedom of religion, impacting Catholic organizations.

"This could lead to other things, like holding state funding. Virtually every hospital in New York state gets some kind of state support, and this constitution could basically say if you don't perform abortions, you may lose your state funding," Borrello said. 

The amendment was first approved a year ago at the height of the supreme court's decision on Roe v. Wade. To change the state constitution, lawmakers had to pass it again this session.

It will now go before voters in next year's general election.

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