At a press conference today, New York governor Andrew Cuomo laid out his ten-point “Women’s Equality Act.” The most controversial part of the bill is Cuomo’s proposal to reform abortion regulations. Cuomo defended the bill in a blog post, writing that the proposal “in no way expands abortion rights but only codifies federal law.” The bill is said to be an update of New York state law, designed to codify the federal decision of Roe v. Wade.
Critics disagree, arguing that the bill will usher in “unlimited late-term abortion on demand.” The key change deals with abortions after 24 weeks, which are currently illegal in New York except in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Cuomo wrote that the new bill “protects the right of a woman to choose to terminate her pregnancy . . . throughout pregnancy when it is necessary to preserve her life or health.” Allowing late-term abortion when there are questions of “health” leaves open the door to a much looser abortion policy.
In a statement, the New York State Catholic Conference denounced the bill, explaining that the “health exception” abortions will be “broadly interpreted by the courts to include age, economic, social and emotional factors,” and will lead to a significant increase in third-trimester abortions. New York already has the highest abortion rate in the nation.
Pro-life advocates also fear that these reforms will encourage the proliferation of dangerous late-term-abortion providers. These abortion services directly target low-income and minority women, and were brought to the national spotlight with the recent murder conviction of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.