New abortion legislation passed the State Legislature last week and was immediately signed into law by Governor Cuomo that removed the requirement that abortions be performed by a physician, removed the requirement that an abortion be performed in a hospital, eliminated all criminal protections for an unborn baby, and expanded the availability of abortions in the last few months of a pregnancy. The legislation was opposed by Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell.
The supporters of the legislation, called the Reproductive Health Act, claimed that it merely codified abortion rights under Roe v. Wade. The legislation actually expanded the availability of abortions well beyond Roe v. Wade, and removed important safety requirements from existing law, noted Goodell.
New York State legalized abortions three years before Roe v. Wade, and allows an unrestricted right to an abortion during the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy. As a result, New York leads the nation in the number of abortions. There are typically about 400 abortions for every 1,000 live births, according to data from the New York State Health Department.
Under prior law, an abortion during the last few months of a pregnancy, after the baby was already fully formed and capable of living outside the womb, was restricted to situations where the mothers life was in danger, where the baby would not survive after birth, or in situations involving a still birth.
The new legislation expands the availability of such an abortion right up until the day the baby is born if the mothers health is at risk. The legislation, however, did not require that the health risk be anything different than the typically associated with any pregnancy.
The legislation also would allow nonsurgical abortions to be performed by physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and even midwives. Surgical abortions during the last few months of a pregnancy could be performed by a physician assistant. This increases risks to pregnant women in the event there are any complications during the abortion, noted Assemblyman Andy Goodell.
This legislation eliminated the requirement that abortions be performed in a hospital, and would allow these abortions to be performed in storefront clinics or outpatient clinics. This also increases risks to pregnant women in the event there are any complications during the abortion.
Reversing decades of law, the abortion legislation eliminated any criminal penalties for the wrongful killing of an unborn baby. Under the prior law, the unlawful killing of any unborn baby could result in a homicide charge. Not anymore. All the criminal protections for an unborn baby were repealed by this abortion legislation.
Under the new law, a pregnant woman could be assaulted or mugged resulting in the death of her unborn child. While the mugger could be charged with assaulting the woman, there would be no additional charge whatsoever for the death of her unborn child.
Unfortunately, there are several reported instances of domestic abuse where the pregnant woman was attacked specifically to kill her unborn child. While the woman survived the attack, her baby was killed. The new legislation would eliminate any criminal charge based on the death of the baby, leaving only charges based on the attack on the woman herself.
Although this legislation was promoted as part of a womens health agenda, it actually removes many important health protections for pregnant women seeking an abortion, eliminates the criminal protections that are so important to pregnant women and their babies, and opens the door for more abortions during the last few months of a pregnancy, said Goodell.
This legislation was unnecessary and inappropriate, concluded Goodell.