February 20, 2013 — "New York State once led the nation in advancing women's rights," a New York Times editorial states, adding that now, "Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to re-establish that pre-eminence with an omnibus agenda on women's equality," including reproductive rights.
"The most important piece of [Cuomo's] agenda would essentially enshrine in state law existing federal protections for abortion rights," including when a woman's health is at risk later in a pregnancy, the editorial continues, noting that New York law currently bans abortion after 24 weeks unless a woman's life is at risk. Although New York does not enforce the ban, some physicians in the state "fear prosecution and, as a result, some women are forced to leave the state to get the care they need," the editorial explains.
The proposal includes other "worthy changes," such as allowing licensed health care providers who are not physicians to perform abortions, as well as "new protections for pregnant workers and victims of domestic violence," according to the editorial.
"Cuomo's proposal is a crucial move at a crucial time," especially because lawmakers in Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming have passed "laws so restrictive that each of these states has a single abortion provider," the editorial notes. "A strong law" -- similar to protections in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada and Washington -- "would help inoculate New York's abortion laws against future watering down of reproductive rights at the federal level," it adds (New York Times, 2/19).