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Is Cuomo OK with women's agenda minus abortion?

By Tom Precious

ALBANY --Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he would not support passage of his women's agenda package unless it included an abortion protection provision, is now sending signals to advocacy groups to embrace a measure without the already-doomed abortion piece, sources said Tuesday.

In his State of the State address this year, the governor made much of his 10-point women's agenda, which included ideas like strengthening sexual harassment laws and pressing for pay equity for women in the privte sector. But this week he made clear he was joining with leaders of various women's groups to proclaim that nine points of the 10-point package were not enough and that the abortion piece had to be included. Leaders of the Senate say the abortion bill, which has advocates and critics disagreeing over its real impact, is not passing this session, though Republicans and Democrats say they could be open with at least most of the nine points Cuomo proposed.

But sources say calls were made today by the Cuomo administration to women's groups with a simple message: maybe it's now time for them to call on lawmakers to at least go along with the nine points and forget the push for the abortion provision this year.

Melissa DeRosa, a Cuomo spokeswoman, said no such message was delivered to any women's groups and that the governor still supports a complete, 10-point agenda.

Tracey Brooks, president of Family Planning Advocates, which represents Planned Parenthood groups in New York, said she participated in today's strategy session with Cuomo. "We had a conversation about a lot of different things. It was a broad conversation,'' she said.

But at no time, she said, did Cuomo signal any retreat from the full, 10-point package. "The governor did not tell us to run a nine-point bill,'' Brooks said.

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