Three years before Roe v. Wade, New York State took a progressive step as one of the first states to decriminalize abortion. The current law framing abortion outside of criminal contexts has not been integrated into overarching New York State Law, however, so it has no security and abortion is still a crime in the penal code. Furthermore, the current law neglects the idea of the fundamental right to make private medical decisions as well as how abortion care is provided. In this context, New York has lagged behind – current laws are technically unconstitutional, and it is the only state that still regulates abortion as a crime.
Even considering the current outdated and narrowly-defined law, New York State can make another progressive step with the Reproductive Health Act. RHA not only guarantees the right to use or refuse contraception for everyone, but also ensures the right to abortion in the case of endangered health and takes abortion out of the penal code which means abortion would be treated as a matter of health – exactly what it is.
Seven other states have already passed laws like the Reproductive Health Act. At the same time though, several states passed abortion restrictions within the last year and over 450 bills restricting or banning abortion have come to several different state legislatures, each threatening Roe v. Wade. If this law is passed in New York, reproductive rights would be protected even if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
For more information about RHA, check out these sites:
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
VOX Student Intern