The New York legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law Tuesday evening on the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The measure allows abortion at “any time” to protect “a patient’s life or health” and removes criminal penalties for abortion.
The bill would permit a “licensed health care practitioner” to perform an abortion “within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient's life or health.”
It also does away with criminal penalties for self-abortion and defines "'Person,' when referring to the victim of a homicide," to mean "a human being who has been born and is alive."
Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, warned the Catholic Courier recently about the potential consequences of the bill's passage.
She argued that the bill’s proponents have been misleadingly framing it as simply codifying Roe v Wade when in reality it goes much farther.
“One of the stark differences is that Roe v Wade never gave permission for nondoctors to perform abortions, and this bill specifically will allow nondoctors to perform abortions,” she explained. “It also repeals protections that are currently in our law for babies that are accidentally born alive during an abortion.”
Suzanne Stack, life-issues coordinator for the Diocese of Rochester, told the Courier that the bill “would remove abortion from the state’s penal code, which means there would no longer be a criminal avenue to pursue if a baby dies in the womb through an act of domestic violence or another crime.”
“I doubt that almost any of us in New York state would be comfortable with these provisions, but we have not been offered the facts by most of the media or by many of our legislators,” Stack emphasized.
New York’s bishops lamented the bill’s expected passage last week.
“Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy,” they said in a statement. “We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as a result.”
Cuomo and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, celebrated the bill’s signing on Twitter Tuesday evening.
This. Is. Huge.@NYGovCuomo JUST signed the Reproductive Health Act into law — a big win towards securing safe, legal abortion & access to contraception for all!— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) January 23, 2019
Can't wait to see other states follow New York's lead to protect our health and rights. ?? https://t.co/1nH9fnIJDK
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New York City shared a video of lawmakers cheering the passage of the late-term abortion legislation after it passed.