Republican John P. Cahill had yet to even announce his candidacy for state attorney general, but that didn’t stop two of New York’s top female Democrats from lambasting him over his opposition to expanding abortion rights in the state.
Albany Mayor Kathy M. Sheehan joined Christine C. Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council and 2013 mayoral candidate, in telling New York reporters during a Friday conference call that the abortion views of Cahill – former environmental conservation commissioner and chief of staff to then-Gov. George E. Pataki – are “unacceptable” in the eyes of most women.
“John Cahill would be a step back for women’s right to choose,” Quinn said, as well as for other “basic choices” New York women now enjoy.
And Sheehan, elected as Albany’s first female mayor last November, said the opposition that Cahill recently expressed to the “10th point” of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed Women’s Equality Act is “insulting.”
“He will not accept what women and men in this state have accepted for many, many years,” Sheehan said. “This is something that’s not negotiable.”
Both women said they support Democratic incumbent Eric T. Schneiderman as a champion of abortion rights.
Sunday in Yonkers, Cahill officially announced his candidacy, citing among other things “Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s crusade for women’s rights.”
A spokesman for Cahill later Sunday blasted Schneiderman for Friday’s attack.
“Having hidden for four years as AG, it’s not surprising that Eric Schneiderman would hide behind his political cronies to attack Cahill,” spokesman David Catalfamo said by email. “John is running to get politics out of the office and as AG will defend the laws and uphold the constitution of the State of New York.”
Cuomo and proponents of the Women’s Equality Act now before the Legislature say the measure would “codify” the abortion rights spelled out in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 into New York law.
Critics are opposed to allowing late-term abortions to protect not only the “life” but the “health” of the mother as in federal law.
The bill is now expected to prove one of the most controversial measures considered by the Legislature before it adjourns in June.
And because the attorney general has the responsibility of enforcing New York law, Quinn questioned whether Cahill would assign the necessary resources of his office to its enforcement.
Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy, who last week introduced Cahill in the Buffalo area in preparation for the announcement of his candidacy, praised Cahill’s “deep conviction and stands on principle.”
Langworthy insisted that Cahill would perform the duties of attorney general as outlined in the law.
“Once again, you have ultraliberal politicians from New York City who politicize the issue of abortion and divide New Yorkers,” Langworthy said.