John Mannion won the support of three women's groups, including Planned Parenthood, this week.
The endorsements were announced at a press conference Tuesday in Fayetteville. Mannion, D-Westvale, was joined by representatives from Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, the central New York chapter of the National Organization for Women and New Feminists for Justice.
The three groups endorsed Mannion in the 50th Senate District race. He is vying for the seat being vacated by state Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Republican who is retiring after 25 years in office.
With women's rights being attacked nationally, Mannion said, New York needs to fight back.
"With an ultra-conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, we need our state to take action and protect women's rights," he said. "It is outrageous that in 2018, we still need to fight for women to have basic rights over their bodies and choices."
Robin Chappelle Golston, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, agreed. She said New York politicians have "sidestepped their obligation to protect our health care and rights."
But Mannion, she added, knows what's at stake.
"When elected to our state Senate, John Mannion will be the fighter we all need," Chappelle Golston said. "It's time to stop playing politics with women's health care and send John Mannion to Albany."
A major difference between the 50th Senate District candidates is their stances on the Reproductive Health Act. The legislation would codify Roe v. Wade into state law, decriminalize abortion, permit nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants to perform abortions and allow abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, there would be exceptions if a fetus is no longer viable or if the mother's health is at risk.
Mannion supports the proposal and has said he would vote for it if elected to the state Senate. His opponent, Republican candidate Bob Antonacci, is pro-life and opposes the Reproductive Health Act. In July, he said he was "not willing to vote for abortion-on-demand in the ninth month."
"The decision in this campaign is clear: My opponent is anti-choice, and I will also stand up and fight for women's rights and health care," Mannion said.
The 50th district race is a crucial contest for both parties as they fight for control of the state Senate. The 63-seat chamber has 31 Democrats, 31 Republicans and a Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans.