Reproductive Health Advocates Push N.Y. Lawmakers To Pass Reproductive Health Act

April 19, 2012 — Women's rights groups are pushing for Republican senators in New York to vote for the Reproductive Health Act, which would codify a woman's right to accept or refuse to take contraceptives and to her right to an abortion later in pregnancy if her health is at risk, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports. The last 10 weeks of the legislative session began on Tuesday.

The act would shift abortion out of the penal code and into the health code. It also would alter current law, which prohibits abortions after 24 weeks of gestation unless the woman's life is in danger.

Opponents of the bill include the state's Catholic Conference, which said the measure would "expand access to abortion and make New York State a safe haven for late-term abortionists" (Campbell, Poughkeepsie Journal, 4/18). Supporters say it would guarantee several reproductive rights for women in the state should Roe v. Wade be overturned (DeWitt, NCPR, 4/16).

NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Andrea Miller said the state "has a unique opportunity to get serious about prioritizing the health and well-being of women and families by passing this crucial bill." The group hosted its annual lobby day on Tuesday to "send a strong message" to lawmakers (Poughkeepsie Journal, 4/16).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he "fully support[s] the reproductive health act." The governor added that he has "been a long supporter of pro choice initiatives going way, way back, and I always will be." Cuomo's comments came after he said on a radio show that he did not know whether he had taken a public position on the bill.

A spokesperson for Cuomo, Alphonso David, on Tuesday thanked the NARAL lobbyists, saying, "It's our hope that as we proceed we will actually see it come to fruition" (NCPR, 4/18).