By Jessica Bakeman, Gannett Albany
Sen. Timothy Kennedy, D-Buffalo, has been criticized for not being a "true" Democrat because of his pro-life stance, but he has not closed the door on voting for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Women's Equality Act.
Kennedy is one of at least two pro-life Democrats in the Senate, where Cuomo's women's agenda is stalled. The chamber is led by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, and GOP Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has vowed to block a vote on the bill.
While women's groups have slammed Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein for not pushing harder for the bill, Klein argues there aren't enough votes to pass it-partly because of the pro-life Democrats.
Kennedy said he is moderate on abortion.
"I am pro-life, but I am not an extremist. And I believe that when it comes to the life and health of a mother, there are circumstances, unfortunately, (in which) individuals have to make very difficult decisions that have an impact on their lives," Kennedy told Gannett's Albany Bureau Tuesday. "And so that brings me toward the middle on the issue; I suppose it does.
"But we're definitely looking at the legislation as it's been proposed and seeing what in fact ultimately comes to the floor for a vote," he said.
Kennedy said he will evaluate the form of the bill that comes to the floor. Although Cuomo released the bill, leaders have been negotiating details in closed-door meetings.
He's still deciding, he said.
"There is no absolute 'no' on any vote that I take," he said. "I always look at the facts of the matter. I always look critically at the details of every single vote that I take. And there's a lot of bills that are floating around Albany, and there's a lot of conjecture, misinformation and distortions of the facts of what is and isn't in each and every bill.
"And then on top of all of that, when it's finally whittled down to what we vote on on the floor-it's a process. Right now, the bill as it's been proposed by the governor is working its way through that process.
"We are looking at the bill critically, reviewing it critically and ensuring that if and when legislation comes to the floor for a vote, I take a vote that I believe in, that is in the best interest of the people that I represent and in the best interest of the people of New York state in general," he finished.