On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York signed the Reproductive Health Act into law, providing protection against prosecution if an individual receives abortion care as well as expanding the availability of abortions. The law expands the criteria for receiving an abortion as well: the fetus is not viable; endangers the life of the mother; and allows for abortions past 23 weeks. The bill was introduced in 2006 but the legislation stalled until finally being passed this week.
This law codified the right to an abortion in New York, securing reproductive rights if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. There is a lack of abortion protection at the state level, leaving reproductive rights at risk in many states without a constitutional right to an abortion. New York now has one of the most progressive laws pertaining to reproductive healthcare in the nation.
The passage of the Reproductive Health Act in New York reflects a larger national conversation about abortion care without Roe v. Wade and how states can protect reproductive healthcare and autonomy. The 2018 midterm election also displayed a national majority that supports and elects pro-choice candidates. In the new 116th Congress, the majority of the House of Representatives support abortion rights, the first time since abortion was legalized in the 1970s.
Governor Cuomo signing the Reproductive Health Act into law was a victory for abortion advocates, especially since there is a possibility Roe v. Wade may be overturned or seriously weakened. New York previously passed laws that provide free menstrual products to homeless shelter and enhance the availability of contraception.
News Sources: Huffington Post, 1/23/2019; NPR, 1/22/2019; Feminist Newswire, 5/20/2015; Feminist Newswire, 6/23/2016