The Reproductive Health Act: New York’s New Abortion Law

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New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking about the Reproductive Health Act. Picture by Kathy Willens.

On January 22, 2019, the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, New York passed a controversial bill called The Reproductive Health Act. It was signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after winning in the Senate and Assembly. The act gives women the access to proper abortion services without restriction up until 24 weeks of pregnancy. The act also protects the right to receive an abortion after 24 weeks if the life or health of the mother is at risk, or the fetus is not viable. New York is just the first of many states that are passing more laws allowing unrestricted abortion.

Protesters from different sides arguing. Picture from Doug Mills.

Though this act was just passed in January, it has been circulating through the legislative branch for the better part of a decade. The Democratic-controlled assembly would pass it each time to the Senate, where it would be shot down by the Republican majority. Last November is what changed it all, when for only the second time in decades the Senate became Democratic-controlled and the new Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins promised to make the bill a top priority.

Though abortion has been technically legal in New York for a while, this act protects a woman’s right to abortion if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, which President Trump has stated that he intends to do. These are the new things that the law enacts:

  • Legalizes abortion at any time when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health

    A pregnant woman. Picture from

    • What this means is that abortions in the third-trimester are legal if the woman’s health is in danger or if the fetus is deemed not viable by a medical professional
  • Allows medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions
    • The only difference this makes is that healthcare providers who are acting in their range of knowledge can perform abortions as well as actual medical doctors
  • Repealed criminal charges for harming unborn children
    • Means that if a fetus dies as a result of an assault on a woman there will be no prosecution of the assaulter

In recent years abortion has reached an all-time low; in 2015 there were 638,169 recorded abortions nationwide, which is about half the number of all abortions in 1980. However, the state of New York’s average is twice that of the entire country’s, prompting the creation of this act. Whether you think it’s a good idea or not, this bill is a momentous event for the law. For more information, go to this link.

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