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Catholic Church Fights New York Abortion Rights Law

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is urging lawmakers to pass state legislation that would guarantee all women the right to an abortion. The Catholic Church has launched an aggressive campaign against the new bill, the Reproductive Health and Privacy Act, according to the New York Sun.

The bill was drafted in April of last year, but this year the governor is making passing the bill a top priority. In January’s State of the State (PDF) address, Gov. Spitzer said, ‘We must also make a commitment to women’s health. Given the continued efforts at the federal level to dismantle protections for women’s reproductive health and privacy, I ask that you pass the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act.”

The Catholic Church has attacked the bill, claiming that it would force Catholic hospitals and medical services to perform abortions or risk losing government funding, despite a conscience clause that would not require medical officials to perform abortions, reports the New York Sun.

The New York penal code has not changed its laws since decriminalizing abortion in 1970. According to NARAL, (PDF) explains much of the code is now outdated. The Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act would ensure a woman’s right to abortion despite the recent federal restrictions by the Supreme Court. The bill’s summary states that it “updates and modernizes New York’s abortion statues to address the constitutional flaws in our statutes, and to recognize a woman’s fundamental right to make medical decisions relating to contraception and pregnancy.”

Sources:

New York Sun 02/19/08; New York State Senate S6045; NARAL Pro-Choice New York Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act; State of the State Address Fact Sheet: Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act