New York law weakens protections for the unborn
by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 1/23/19, 01:02 pm
New York state weakened protections for unborn babies on Tuesday, codifying in state law the provisions granted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that legalized abortion. The new law maintains the state’s existing rule protecting unborn babies after 24 weeks of gestation but adds exceptions for an abortion beyond that point in a pregnancy if the baby could not live outside the womb or an abortion is considered “necessary to protect the patient’s life or health” based on a healthcare provider’s “good faith professional judgment.” It also allows physician assistants to abort babies and moves abortion regulations from criminal to civil code, which pro-life advocates fear could make it harder for prosecutors to bring charges in assaults that lead to lost pregnancies.
The passage of the bill Tuesday in the state Senate, now controlled by Democrats after the midterm elections, was met with “riotous cheers and applause” in the Senate chamber, according to the Times Union of Albany, a reaction countered by someone yelling, “May almighty God have mercy on the state of New York.” After the Democratic-majority state Assembly followed suit and voted to approve the bill later that afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly arranged a same-day signing ceremony to coincide with the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Texas attorney Sarah Weddington, who argued the case before the Supreme Court in 1973, was present for the signing.
Supporters of the bill said it was necessary in case the Supreme Court overturns the landmark abortion case. But pro-life advocates said the new law’s additional exceptions beyond 24 weeks would lead to an increase in late-term abortions in a state that already has an abortion rate nearly double that of the national average, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
“Today, New York state has added a sad chapter to this already solemn date of Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” the state’s Catholic bishops said in a statement Tuesday.
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