Both chambers of the New York state legislature voted Tuesday on legislation to enshrine a “fundamental right” to abortion in state law and eliminate protections for preborn babies until birth, in votes set to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
The state Senate voted 38-24 in favor of the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” Tuesday evening, the Albany Times-Union reports, a bill that has repeatedly cleared the state Assembly in years past but been blocked by the formerly-Republican Senate. Following the Senate vote, the Assembly passed it 92-47.
The bill declares that “Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion,” erases the state’s recognition of preborn babies older than 24 weeks as potential homicide victims, removes abortion from the penal code entirely, and allows licensed health practitioners other than full doctors to commit abortions.
“We have a president who’s made it very, very clear that he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins declared before the vote. “Today, here in New York, we are saying no […] and we’re not just saying no. We’re saying that here in New York, women’s health matters. We’re saying here in New York, women’s lives matter. We’re saying here in New York, women’s decisions matter.”
The Times-Union suggests the bill would allow “late-stage” abortions only if the mother’s “health” is endangered or if the baby is deemed non-viable, but the New York State Right to Life Committee warns that the bill would go much further in practice.
Declaring abortion a “fundamental right” opens the door to invalidating “any limits on abortion” and “mandat[ing] that everyone take part in the culture of death,” the group warns. The bill would also prevent pregnant women whose babies are killed in violent attacks from seeing justice, and have the effect of “authorizing infanticide” by repealing the requirement that a second physician be on hand in the event that an attempted abortion past 20 weeks yields a live infant.
The bill is also part of a broader trend of left-wing states codifying a “right” to abortion in anticipation of a future Supreme Court ruling that could reverse Roe, restoring states’ ability to ban abortion themselves and automatically banning it in the handful of states with pre-Roe bans still on the books.
“To see New York pass a bill so that right is protected, is just a dream come true,” said Sarah Ragle Weddington, an attorney who represented Norma “Jane Roe” McCorvey in the original case. The Times-Union does not mention that Weddington’s former client became pro-life in 1995 and dedicated the rest of her life to opposing Roe.