Forty-six years after the Roe v. Wade decision, New York is taking steps to protect women’s rights and make sure that historic court decision becomes state law.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed The Reproductive Health Act this week, which “protects women's reproductive rights by ensuring New Yorkers can make personal healthcare decisions and medical professionals can provide crucial services without fear of criminal penalty.”
The new legislation comes amid fears that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade.
"In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women's reproductive rights, I promised that we would pass this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session - and we got it done," Cuomo stated when signing the bill.
The Reproductive Health Act was passed by the state Senate 38-24 and the state Assembly overwhelmingly supported it with a 92-47 vote. Similar legislation had been blocked for years, but with the Democrats back in control, it easily passed.
With the bill now law, women will be allowed to receive abortions after 24 weeks if their life or health is threatened by maintaining the pregnancy. The law also regulates abortion under the public health law, rather than criminal law. This allows licensed nurse practitioners, physician assistants and licensed midwives to conduct abortions.
"As keepers of the torch for women's rights that was first ignited in New York State back in 1848, we have a moral responsibility to continue this fight today," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul added. "Thanks to an election that saw record numbers of women elected to office, I presided over the State Senate and we finally enacted the Reproductive Health Act to protect the rights of women across our great state.
“We act today on the anniversary of the groundbreaking decision of Roe v. Wade and recognize the threat we face from a Supreme Court determined to overturn protections that have been in place for over four decades. Today is a historic day for women in New York, and I'm proud that we are working every day to ensure full equality and safety for women."
The signing of The Reproductive Health Act fulfilled one of Cuomo’s promises he promised to complete during the first 30 days of the year.
"We are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own personal health, including the ability to access an abortion,” the governor said. “With the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added, "New York once led the way on choice and women's rights. Unfortunately for years, barriers to women's rights were put up, and our state has fallen behind. Today, we are tearing those barriers down and we are now leading the way againThe Reproductive Health Act protects women's reproductive rights by ensuring New Yorkers can make personal healthcare decisions and medical professionals can provide crucial services without fear of criminal penalty.”
"A woman's power to decide whether she will give birth or not is the single greatest determinant of whether she is healthy or not, educated or not, works outside the home or not, and how long she will live,” famed feminist Gloria Steinem said. “This power has been taken away by patriarchy and racism, sometimes disguised as religion, yet it is our most basic democratic right.”
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