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Politics & Policy

New York State Senate Passes Bill Permitting Abortions up to Birth

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in N.Y., November 13, 2018. (Jeenah Moon/REUTERS)

The New York State Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) this evening by a vote of 38-24, on the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which found that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion. The bill already passed the state assembly by a 92-47 vote.

Once signed by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, who has long pushed for expansive abortion-rights legislation, the bill will expand the state’s already liberal abortion regime to allow late-term abortions when “the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

The legislation provides a further exception to permit abortion at any point during pregnancy if a health-care practitioner deems it necessary for the mother’s life or health — the exception that was defined in Roe companion case Doe v. Bolton as “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.” In other words, abortion will be available to women essentially on demand up to the point of birth. The RHA will also decriminalize abortion, moving it from the state’s criminal code to the public-health code.

Earlier this month, Cuomo said he hopes to put abortion rights on the ballot next year and have expansive protections for abortion, similar to the RHA, written into the state constitution. Here’s more from Katie Yoder’s reporting on the bill at NRO earlier this month:

Current New York law doesn’t appear to discourage women from abortion at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent Abortion Surveillance report, for the year 2015, New York City performed 544 abortions for every 1,000 live births. That means roughly one in three unborn babies are aborted in the city. That also means the New York City’s abortion rate makes up more than half of the city’s birth rate. With the state’s voluntarily reported data, the CDC found that 63,646 abortions occurred in the New York City during 2015, with 32.8 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. New York — with the city and state data combined — saw a lower number in 2015. As a whole, New York performed 93,096 abortions total, with 23.1 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age. It counted 392 abortions per 1,000 live births.

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