The New York state Legislature has passed a bill that makes it legal for doctors and other health care professionals, such as midwives and physician assistants, to perform abortions up until birth for any reason in the state. The so-called Reproductive Health Act that abortion advocates have been trying to get passed for 12 years and which has been vehemently opposed by religious and conservative groups, passed with a 38-28 vote in the state Senate chamber. The bill codifies federal abortion rights guaranteed under the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and removes abortion from the state’s criminal code.
Abortion was legalized in New York three years before the Roe v. Wade decision, but remained on the state’s criminal code, making it a felony to perform late-term abortions. The law defined homicide as “conduct which causes the death of a person or an unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks.” The Reproductive Health Act removes abortion from the penal code, and further notes that: “Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization. Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to the birth of a child, or to have an abortion.”
As the debate over the bill was underway, supporters chanted, “Free abortion on demand, can we do it, yes we can.” Those who opposed the proposal chanted back while holding posters with images of babies and signs reading messages such as “I regret my abortion.” Religious groups such as the Office of Adult Faith Formation of the Archdiocese of New York, called on the faithful to pray in anticipation of the bill’s passage. “New Yorkers, join us, it is important more than ever to pray as we expect that the Reproductive Health Act – Abortion Expansion will become law in the state of NY making late-term abortion legal in NY,” the group noted in a tweet.
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