A mailer sent to voters in the 50th Senate District wrongly attributes a quote to Republican candidate Bob Antonacci while claiming he won't protect women's rights if the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case is overturned.
The mailer was distributed by the New York State Democratic Committee and the New York State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. It sought to highlight Antonacci's opposition to the Reproductive Health Act, legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade into state law.
One side of the mailer cites a story published in The Citizen and quotes Antonacci saying, "I don't think the voters of New York are interested in such side issues and extreme issues as this bill."
However, the source of that quote was Rick Guy, not Antonacci. Guy was a candidate for the 50th Senate District until he was removed from the ballot due to invalid petitions. In that same story, Antonacci said of the Reproductive Health Act: "I'm pro-life and I'm not willing to vote for abortion-on-demand in the ninth month."
Republicans slammed their Democratic counterparts — specifically, John Mannion, the party's nominee in the race — for the mailer and attributing Guy's quote to Antonacci.
"For weeks, John Mannion's desperate Senate campaign has relied on lies and distortions, but to falsely accuse someone of using words they never uttered is a new low," said Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans. "This is serious business, and John Mannion can't just make things up. It's disgusting, it's irresponsible and there's no place for it in politics. John Mannion says he's not a typical politician, but he sure does act like one."
Gary Ginsburg, a spokesman for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, responded: "Bob Antonacci is an anti-choice extremist who won't protect women's health or rights. He's wrong for central New York."
The Reproductive Health Act is a priority for Democrats. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed for passage of the bill, and the state Assembly has advanced it several times. But it hasn't received a vote in the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans.
The legislation would decriminalize abortion and allow abortions up to 24 weeks. After 24 weeks, there would be exceptions if a fetus isn't viable or if the procedure is necessary to protect the mother's health.
Democrats have renewed calls for passage of the Reproductive Health Act after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. With Kavanaugh joining the nation's highest court, pro-choice advocates fear Roe v. Wade could be overturned.
Cuomo said last week that if Democrats win control of the state Senate, he would aim to advance the legislation within the first 30 days of 2019.
The winner of the 50th Senate District race could provide the crucial vote to either pass the bill or prevent its adoption. While Antonacci opposes the Reproductive Health Act, Mannion supports the legislation.