On the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, New York has once again become a champion of women’s rights on choice and I could not be more proud to call myself a New Yorker.
On Jan. 22, 2019, the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) was passed thanks in part to the Democratic controlled State Senate and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Given the current political turmoil within the country, rights to contraceptives and abortion is becoming harder to access, and New York was no exception to this issue.
Prior to to the recent law passage, New York’s laws on abortion were archaic, pre dating Roe v. Wade by three years. The 1970 law classified any termination of pregnancy after 24 weeks would be considered criminal and both the patient and the doctor could have been charged with a felony, even if the fetus was unviable outside of the womb, or was found to have issues that would guarantee a short and painful life.
With the old law being filed underneath a criminal code rather than a health law, expectant mothers would be forced to either carry out the pregnancy, risk an unsafe illegal procedure, or have to take on the financial burdens of receiving the operation in a state that performs abortions after the 24 week cut off.
For the naysayers on this progressive law, the best way to prevent abortions was passed on the very same day. According to a 2011 study by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization dedicated to research on reproductive health, contraceptives are a major predictor of whether a woman will have an abortion.
“The very small group of American women who were at risk of experiencing an unintended pregnancy but were not using contraceptives accounted for the majority of abortions,” states the study. The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA) will make it easier to access FDA approved contraceptives, have insurance assist with the cost of emergency contraceptives like Plan B and expand overall coverage of contraceptive counselling.
There are critics out there who will conflate the debate with statements that the codified law is murder or evil, but its not. Abortion is a medical procedure, one that is necessary and it’s about time it is being treated as such. According to a 2018 Quinnipiac poll, 73 percent of New Yorkers want protection on abortion rights in the state, and now we have it.
Abortion is obviously one of the most controversial topics in politics today, but regardless on how one feels about the issue the choice to an abortion should not be up to a minority of views or the majority of those in office but the individual, and that is the true intention of RHA, and the CCCA. Allowing women to have control over their own body, which is a concept that is under constant threat given the current presidential administration and overall religious proselytism.
Should the country’s laws on women’s health regress to the point that the highest court in the land overturns Roe v. Wade, it is a relief to know that New York is once again a leader in the rights on choice, but it is far from comforting when looking out to the rest of the nation.