BUFFALO, N.Y. - The message from the pulpit in Catholic churches over the weekend got political.
"Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced a women's rights bill," said Bishop Richard Malone in a recorded message to parishioners. "The catholic church supports nine out of ten points in this bill."
The tenth point - a controversial provision expanding abortion rights - was the focus of a 3 minute statement from Bishop Malone.
"We must defeat this serious attempt to expand abortion," said Bishop Malone. "We must respect women and protect the child in the womb.
Bishop Malone encouraged local catholics to call their state lawmakers to urge them to vote against the controversial abortion provision in the Women's Equality Act.
WEB EXTRA: Read Governor Cuomo's blog on Women's Equality Act
Two on Your Side reached out local lawmakers to see if the Bishop's request generated a response.
Every lawmaker who got back to us, including Republican senators Mark Grisanti and Mike Ranzenhofer and Democratic assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak all agreed they don't support the abortion provision but they fully support the nine other measures, which address pay inequity, sex trafficking and pregnancy discrimination among other things.
The only female lawmaker we spoke with, Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, says there is a large catholic population in her Clarence district and thus her office has been inundated with phone calls and e-mails. Corwin says she would vote no to the women's equality act because the the abortion language in it is too broad and she doesn't believe in further expanding abortion in New York State.
At the same time, there's plenty of pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill from Women's rights groups and campaign finance advocates.
Regardless of how the Western New York delegation would vote, it might not matter. While the Women's Equality Act would likely pass in the assembly, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said he plans to block a vote altogether because of the abortion piece attached to it.
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