Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos told reporters this morning that his conference was firmly opposed to the womens reproductive health act, an expansion of abortion rights that is at the centerpiece of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s equality for women legislative package.

“The way I look at this legislation is that number one it really is an expansion of abortion and partial-birth abortion,” Skelos said.

The Nassau County Republican has faced criticism from the conservative base of the party over his conference allowing votes on a variety of measures backed by Cuomo, including the legalization of same-sex marriage and, more recently, a sweeping gun control law.

Skelos, however, pointed to the mainline Democratic conference, which he referred to as the “Stewart-Cousins Democrats,” not having enough votes to pass the measure.

“They didn’t do it when they were power,” Skelos said. “They didn’t do marriage equality when they were power. They didn’t do guns when they were in power. So again, I think this is a bit radical, to the left, extreme.”

Skelos also suggested that other aspects of the women’s equality legislation as outlined by Cuomo — including a tightening of domestic violence laws and equal pay — could be dealt with.

“We’re going to look at it,” Skelos said. “I think there are parts in there that we can deal with — figure out how we can deal with the equal issues. The Senate has always been out front on many of the domestic violence issues. It’s been the Assembly that we’ve had to drag along.”

He added, “Abortion is safe, legal in New York state. It’s not going to be changed.”

The stance opens daylight between him and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, who entered into a governing coalition with Senate Republicans. Under the agreement, both sides have equal say over which pieces of legislation are allowed to come to the floor for a vote.

Klein, in a somewhat testy exchange with reporters, said he would continue to push for the law.

“My position is very clear,” Klein said. “I’m pro-choice; I always have been.”

Klein sought to turn it around on the Democratic conference, saying being supportive of abortion rights could be a Democratic litmus test.

“I think the Senate Democrats should take a step back and evaluate their conference,” he said, adding, “It’s going to be a big challenge.”

Sens. Tim Kennedy and Ruben Diaz are opposed to abortion.

Klein’s IDC donated to Kennedy’s re-election effort.

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