In a landmark move by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a new bill regarding abortion laws within the state has officially been signed as of today. The bill is known as the Reproductive Health Act (S2796). This change to New York abortion laws came on the 46th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, a major case that set the precedent for abortion laws throughout the United States back in 1973.
The primary changes this bill brings into law include protections of abortion rights within the state even if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned, and adds the option for third-trimester abortions (after 24 weeks) if either it is necessary to terminate to protect the mother’s life, or if the fetus is deemed unviable. In addition to preserving access to abortions, this also removes abortions from the state’s criminal code and allows for medical practitioners that are not doctors to perform them.
There has been quite a bit of praise for these changes to New York abortion laws, notably from NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman quoted as stating:
“The Reproductive Health Act recognizes reproductive health care as a fundamental right. It takes abortion out of the criminal code and puts it where women’s health belongs — in the public health law. It recognizes the range of medical professionals that women can turn to, expanding access to early care.”
Critics of the New York abortion laws believe the bill overreaches arguing that the extension for cases past 24 weeks will be abused. There is also concern over the removal of abortion from the criminal code. State Assembly Rep. Nicole Malliotakis argued that in a scenario wherein a woman was assaulted and lost her child as a result that the attacker would not be punished with this removal. Whether there is validity to that claim remains to be seen.