Republican gubernatorial candidates have been trading barbs over their respective stances on abortion access in New York over the past couple of days following a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion last week that would nix Roe v. Wade.
Andrew Giuliani, one of the candidates and the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, put out a release Tuesday criticizing his opponent U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R – Long Island) – the presumptive frontrunner in the race – for appearing to backtrack Monday on a days earlier statement that he would appoint a pro-life health commissioner if he were elected governor.
Giuliani also repeated claims that Republican operative John Haggerty, who was convicted of stealing $750,000 from former-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 mayoral reelection campaign, helped Zeldin to try and throw his rivals off the primary ballot.
“Whether he’s claiming to be pro-election integrity while hiring felons to knock his opponents off the ballot, or giving a vague non-answer on abortion, Lyin’ Lee can’t be trusted,” Giuliani said. “I am not afraid to say I’m pro-life. As a father, I must protect all children, born and unborn.”
Katie Vicentz, a spokeswoman for Zeldin’s campaign, responded that, “There isn’t a single accusation in that press release that is true.”
However, Vicentz refused to elaborate further on Giuliani’s comments regarding Zeldin’s stance on Roe specifically. A spokeswoman for Giuliani said he couldn’t be reached when a reporter reached out asking for more clarification on his criticisms of Zeldin and overall stance on Roe.
Giuliani was referring to comments Zeldin made Monday where he said that despite his personal feelings about abortion “nothing changes in the state of New York,” whether Roe is overturned or not. Although Zeldin acknowledged he probably can’t change abortion law in New York, he said last month at a New York Right to Life townhall that he thought New York having a pro-life health commissioner is a “great idea.”
“It would be a great benefit for the state of New York to have a health commissioner who respects life as opposed to what we’re used to,” Zeldin said at the time.
But in a report from the New York Post, Vicentz downplayed the disparity between the conflicting statements, saying Zeldin wouldn’t be able to pursue a pro-life agenda in New York considering Democratic supermajorities control both legislative chamber.
Even if Roe is overturned, abortion will remain legal in the Empire State as the right to an abortion was codified into law through the 2019 Reproductive Health Act.
This all comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul has made protecting abortion rights a central piece of her campaign since the draft opinion was leaked last week. A day after the leaked opinion became public, Hochul released two campaign ads about protecting the abortion rights and earlier Tuesday announced the state would allocate $35 million toward giving reproductive health centers around the state additional resources.
“We established here in the state of New York that access to reproductive health care is a human right,” Hochul said Tuesday. “And we will defend that right to have an abortion with the full power of New York state government. And we’ll ensure that every single person in need of care receives that care. And will never stop fighting to make sure that New York, and women from all over, who are seeking safe, accessible abortion service receive them.”