New York Governor George Pataki (R) has announced his intention to veto legislation to allow women in New York to access emergency contraception at pharmacies, without a prescription. Spokesperson Kevin Quinn made the announcement, citing a concern that the bill did not restrict access for minors, and later suggesting that the legislation prohibit men from purchasing the drug, reports the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Pataki indicated that he might support similar legislation that included these restrictions.
The decision to veto this bill represents a change for Pataki, a Republican with a pro-choice record, and has dissatisfied all sides. In the New York Times, Connie Mackey, of the ultraconservative Family Research Council, disparaged Pataki for not completely opposing the emergency contraception, and JoAnn Smith, head of Family Planning Advocates of New York State, told the Associated Press, ”It is distressing that politics appears to have won out over women’s health.” As in the case of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, there is speculation that a veto on emergency contraception is an attempt to gain favor with anti-choice Republicans before a possible run for President.
Though the bill passed easily in the New York House, it was a much closer vote in the Senate, and it is unlikely that the legislature will attempt to override the veto, according to the New York Times. In response to Pataki’s stance, and anticipating a possible presidential run, NARAL Pro-Choice New York will begin airing television ads in New York, New Hampshire and Iowa that attack Pataki’s changing position on abortion rights as sheer opportunism at the expense of women.