While many are celebrating New York Senate passing the most extensive pro-choice legislation in recent years, others say it infringes upon the rights of the unborn and will cause more harm than good.
The Reproductive Health Act has existed since 2007 but was never able to pass due to a Republican-held State Senate. Democrats regained a majority after the 2018 midterms and determined that passing the legislation would be one of their first actions.
“It’s a dream come true,” said “Jane Roe” attorney Sarah Ragle Weddington to Newsday after the legislation passed on the 1973 anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
However, many pro-life activists were horrified by the legislator’s decision. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser spoke out about the decision in a statement to IJR.
“Shame on Governor Cuomo and his pro-abortion allies in the legislature. The state of New York already has one of the highest abortion rates in the country, far above the national average,” said Dannenfelser. “This radical expansion of abortion on demand through birth is a tragedy to be mourned, not a victory to be celebrated.”
What is The Reproductive Health Act:
The main reason cited for passing the act is to codify abortion rights into New York state law. If Roe v. Wade was ever overturned by the Supreme Court, this means that abortion rights in New York would stay the same.
Abortions were taken off of the penal code and pro-choice legislation was added.
“The legislature finds that comprehensive reproductive health care is a fundamental component of every individual’s health, privacy and equality. Therefore, it is the policy of the state that: Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization. Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion, pursuant to this article.”
The previous homicide law, which listed “conduct which causes the death of a person or an unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks” as a felony offense, has been taken off the penal code by the newly passed legislation.
In addition to the changes to the penal code, the act has made it lawful for a healthcare provider, other than a physician, to administer an abortion. They have also broadly defined the reasons that could justify a late-term abortion.
Why it Matters:
Opponents to the new legislation worry that this legislation will punish the wrong people, pointing out the double standard that can be found in New York law.
“Convicted criminals aren’t subjected to the death penalty in New York state, but now children up until the ninth month of pregnancy can be given lethal injections and poisoned to death,” said Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, in a statement responding to the law. “This is no different than infanticide.”
While the law may have been meant to protect mothers whose health is at risk, Rose said that the broad definition has the potential to be taken advantage of.
“New York’s law is barbaric and inhumane and rejects modern science and medical advancements that reveal the development and humanity of life in the womb. Millions of Americans are waking up to the barbaric reality of abortion and rejecting it. A recent Marist poll showed 75 percent of Americans believe abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy. This includes 61 percent of those who identify as pro-choice, 60 percent of Democrats, and 78 percent of independents.”
“It is my hope that what New York has painfully done encourages women and their families to ask exactly what a late-term abortion is, to understand that the only differences between these children and their right to life is location, that an actual child is literally ripped apart during an abortion, and to see abortion for the heinous act it is,” said Johnson.