Protecting Reproductive Health Care:
Assembly Passes Reproductive Health Act
Statement by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried
Today, the Assembly Health Committee reported and the Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), A.1748, introduced by Assembly Member Deborah Glick. The RHA eliminates outdated language in New York State law; guarantees a woman’s right to choose; and ensures constitutionally protected access to safe, legal abortion. It also takes New York’s abortion law out of the Penal Law and puts it in the Public Health Law where it belongs. Reproductive freedom is fundamental and must be secured.
The U.S. Supreme Court will very likely soon have a majority of judges who oppose protecting reproductive choice. This, and Republican control of Congress and the White House, makes it more important than ever for New York to pass the Reproductive Health Act.
As chair of the Assembly Health Committee, a founding member of the New York State Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus, and someone who has been active with NARAL since 1969, protecting and strengthening reproductive rights and access to care are among my highest priorities. New York’s own landmark law on abortion – enacted three years before Roe v. Wade decision – provides most, but not all, the protections of Roe.
The RHA adds a provision to the Public Health Law saying that any appropriately licensed health care practitioner such as a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or professional midwife may perform an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, or if there is an absence of fetal viability, or if the abortion is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman. In contrast, the current abortion provision in the state Penal Law says only a physician may perform an abortion and only allows an abortion after 24 weeks when necessary to protect the life of the woman. The RHA would strengthen New York’s law to fully cover all the provisions of the Roe v. Wade decision, and all applicable laws and regulations governing health care in New York will also apply.
While we in New York have been working to protect women’s health, state legislatures and governors across the country have been working to pass unconstitutional anti-choice bills. New York is a pro-choice state – with a history of pro-choice governors, legislators and other elected officials – because we have so many active pro-choice advocates. As Washington threatens reproductive health care rights and access, it is more critical than ever that we organize and fight to protect every woman’s reproductive rights.