A Manhattan foundation that is trying to curb abortions in New York State is launching a pair of local radio commercials today aimed at State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat who says he has recently evolved to a pro-choice position.
The ads, sponsored by the Chiaroscuro Group, hammer at Kennedy for his support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act. The group maintains that the bill’s “10th point” will expand abortion rights in New York, including late-term abortions, and asks New Yorkers to express their dissatisfaction with Kennedy.
Though Chiaroscuro officials say they have not spent a lot of money on the ads, the spots feature the voice of a presumed unborn child just before birth whom they say could be aborted under the proposed law.
“In a week, I’ll be there. With you. Seeing your smile. Feeling the sun … and your face,” the voice says, while indicating “that’s me” depicted on a sonogram.
The ad then goes on to contend that Kennedy’s support of the bill will allow abortions right up until birth “for virtually any reason.”
“Call Tim Kennedy today,” the ad concludes. “Tell him late-term abortion isn’t progressive. It’s … unthinkable.”
A companion ad addresses the senator directly by saying, “We’re calling you out.”
“Whaddaya think you’re doing? Pushing a bill to expand abortion into the ninth month of pregnancy?” it says. “But you know what’s worse, senator? You and Gov. Cuomo keep saying you’re doing this for women. Well, we don’t want it.”
Kennedy responded by labeling the ads as political in an election year in which he faces a tough Democratic primary against County Legislature Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant and possibly others. He labeled the group sponsoring the ads a “special-interest and downstate lobby group.”
“They have the right to do so,” he said, “but it’s not surprising that a group chaired by a millionaire Republican donor is lobbing attack ads.”
Kennedy said that Chiaroscuro Chairman Sean Fieler is “out of touch” with Western New Yorkers and that he stands by his decision to support the proposal’s 10th point. He emphasized that the Cuomo bill brings New York into sync with federal law, which allows late-term abortions to protect not only the “life” but “health” of the mother.
Critics such as Chiaroscuro President Greg Pfundstein contend that late-term abortions for “health” reasons allow for liberal interpretation, including “age, emotional and psychological” reasons.
“Historically, that’s been interpreted as a license for abortion up until birth,” he said, adding that his group is “very disappointed” in Kennedy’s change of position.
“We want to inform his constituents and give them an opportunity to let him know what they feel,” he said.
A Chiaroscuro spokesman said the foundation recognizes New York as a pro-choice state, but works to find ways to reduce its high number of abortions.
Kennedy, throughout the controversy over his change of position on the issue, has said that “dire circumstances” often accompany problem pregnancies and that New York women should have access to all health care options. “I believe the decisions I make are in the best interests of the people I represent,” he said, regardless of his “personal beliefs.”
After Kennedy recently said he continues as a practicing Catholic and is “nurturing” his children in the faith, he was criticized by Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Buffalo Diocese.
Several pro-choice groups, meanwhile, have praised Kennedy for his support of the governor’s bill.