New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Tuesday a bill that goes beyond Roe v. Wade by making abortion a “fundamental right” up to the day of birth and banning limitations on abortion that the Supreme Court has permitted.
The new law, known as S240 in the state Senate and A21 in the Assembly, passed both houses and was signed by the governor all on the same day -- the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The Senate passed it by a vote of 38-24, the Assembly 92-47. Both are controlled by Democrats.
It was called the “Reproductive Health Act.”
“May almighty God have mercy on the state of New York,” someone from the public gallery shouted after it passed the Senate.
New York State Right to Life and other pro-life groups called the law “extreme.”
“Supporters of RHA claim it merely seeks to update New York’s laws to make them consistent with Roe v. Wade. This claim is false,” the New York group said. “The changes this bill would make instead would authorize abortion through all nine months, for any reason, with no restrictions, up until birth, and even after birth if a child is born during the course of an abortion (i.e. infanticide).”
The new law prohibits limitations on abortion that the Supreme Court has permitted, such as waiting periods, parental involvement laws, and bans on partial-birth abortion.
“It is the intent of the legislature to prevent the enforcement of laws or regulations that are not in furtherance of a legitimate state interest in protecting a woman's health that burden abortion access,” the law says.
Further, the law defines person as “a human being who has been born and is alive.” It allows abortion post-viability when it is necessary “to protect the patient’s life or health” -- exceptions that courts have interpreted broadly as referencing any pregnancy at any point.
The new law also permits nurses and non-physicians to perform abortions, provided they are a licensed “health care practitioner” and acting in “good faith.”
The law was passed as pro-choicers grow concerned about the new makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court and the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
“We cannot overstate how important it is for all New Yorkers to have the ability to control their own bodies and determine their own destinies,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. “As we continue to face challenges to reproductive health care access on the federal level, it is paramount that New York is the beacon and state model of what reproductive health care should be.”
New York State Right to Life (NYSRTL) wrote on its Facebook page that the new law bans common-sense restrictions favored by New Yorkers.
“While we look forward to the time when Roe vs. Wade is overturned, under Roe limits on abortion are constitutional and are favored by the majority of the public, including in New York,” a statement read. “NYSRTL will continue to work to expose the misinformation put forth about [the Reproductive Health Act], protect children and their mothers, protect the rights of pro-life persons to engage in life-saving activities and express their views, and to build a culture of Life in New York.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Pixabay