New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned after allegations of physical abuse by four women were reported in an article in the New Yorker magazine.

Governor Andrew Cuomo had called for Mr Schneiderman's resignation within hours of the article's publication.

A short time later Mr Schneiderman, a Democrat who was running for re-election, said he was stepping down.

"In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me," Mr Schneiderman said in a statement.

"While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on 8 May, 2018."

In the article published yesterday the New Yorker reported that four women, who said they had romantic relationships or encounters with Mr Schneiderman, said they had been subjected to non-consensual physical violence.

Reuters has not independently confirmed the accusations.

"In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity," Mr Schneiderman said in a statement issued by Stu Loeser & Co before he announced his resignation.

"I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross."

Mr Cuomo, in his statement calling for Mr Schneiderman's resignation, referred to "the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article," and said he did not believe it was possible for Mr Schneiderman to continue to serve as attorney general.

The New Yorker reported that two of the women who spoke to the magazine "alleged that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent."

The two women who were named in the article both called the abuse by Mr Schneiderman "assault," the magazine reported.

One of the women said Mr Schneiderman slapped her across the face after she rejected his advances and that when she told him she wanted to leave, he said, "A lot of women like it. They don't always think they like it, but then they do, and they ask for more," according to the article.

A spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the office is opening an investigation.