Abortion Rights: Why New York Is Swimming against the National Tide

By Haq, Husna | The Christian Science Monitor, February 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

Abortion Rights: Why New York Is Swimming against the National Tide


Haq, Husna, The Christian Science Monitor


Former Gov. George Pataki, the Roman Catholic Church, and now Fox News host Bill OReilly have joined a growing chorus of voices blasting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for championing an abortion bill that would provide access to late-term abortions if a womans health is endangered or the fetus is not viable.

The latest opponent to join the ring, Mr. OReilly, called Governor Cuomo barbaric last Thursday on the Glenn Beck show and said he wants to legalize late-term abortion for any reason ... a migraine headache, a hang nail, a panic attack.

Its no surprise the governors proposed Reproductive Health Act is gaining so much attention. The chorus of protests began after Cuomo outlined the proposed legislation in his January State of the State address, as part of a broader package of women's rights initiatives. One of the countrys most liberal pieces of abortion legislation, the bill goes against the national tide, attempting to relax abortion controls at a time when many other states are seeking restrictions.

Last year 19 states enacted 43 provisions restricting abortion access, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion advocacy and research group. Not one measure was adopted to expand abortion access. In 2011, a record-breaking 92 abortion restrictions were enacted.

Pretty much all of the energy, all of the momentum, has been to restrict abortion, which makes what could potentially happen in New York so interesting, Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, told The New York Times. Theres no other state thats even contemplating this right now.

Cuomos office has said his Reproductive Health Act is an effort to reinforce Roe v. Wade to protect the reproductive rights of women should the Supreme Court overturn the courts landmark abortion ruling.

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"The governor would simply realign our outdated state laws to federal law and existing state practice," said Cuomos counsel, Mylan Denerstein, in an Op-Ed. "The Supreme Court could always change and we want to protect a womans current right to choose."

Cuomos office has said the legislation would not expand state laws beyond federal standards. New York States existing law, which was passed in 1970, currently allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy only if a womans life is at risk, while federal law allows late-term abortions to protect a womans health even if her life is not in danger.

The bill one plank of a 10-part Womens Equality Act that would also seek to install equal pay, anti-trafficking and anti- discrimination legislation would allow licensed health-care practitioners, not just physicians, to perform abortions. …

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