New York’s Reproductive Health Act: What You Need To Know


It’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan Week (no, really), and the conservative Catholic leader has certainly not let the eponymous 7-day shindig go to waste.

Dolan made the rounds in Albany on Monday, where he and other top Catholics made clear their anti-abortion and anti-pedophilia prosecution positions.

The church top honcho emphasized his opposition to the Reproductive Health Act, which basically makes state policy “up to date” with Roe V. Wade.

(“America’s Pope” said that the pedophilia measure, which would extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases, would irreparably drain church coffers.)

If you were a little confused why New York — a state with very pro-choice policies — would still be debating abortion, not to worry.

Though the Empire state was the first in the union to decriminalize pregnancy terminations and remains one of the most pro-choice places in the U.S., reproductive health advocates want to fix a few legal loopholes that might undermine choice.

Runnin’ Scared has put together a very brief guide explaining what this is about.

What’s the Reproductive Health Act in the New York Senate and Assembly?

Right now, women in New York can only get late-term abortions if the pregnancy will likely kill them. The RHA will extend this right to cases where a woman’s life or health is at risk, or where the fetus has a fatal medical issue. The measure would also put into law New Yorkers’ right to contraception — as well as their right not to chose birth control.

What are the legal consequences?

Another feature of the RHA removes abortion from the penal code — in other words, it would decriminalize abortion. Right now, the law on the books treats late-term abortions under the homicide statutes. New York is said to be the only state that treats abortion as a criminal matter.

Is this act necessary?

Choice advocates worry that abortion is not protected enough at the federal level, so they want to create strong state laws that would insulate New Yorkers from national, anti-choice policy shifts. Opponents, however, worry that the proposal would encourage abortion.

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