Outdated Abortion Law is Inconsistent with Women’s Rights, Says Attorney General

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
September 8, 2016 9:30 am

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The New York Civil Liberties Union welcomed an opinion today by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman clarifying that women’s reproductive rights affirmed in Roe v Wade supersede restrictions in New York’s older and existing abortion laws. The Supreme Court has found it unconstitutional to deny women the right to abortion later in pregnancy if a woman’s health is at risk or the fetus is not viable, yet New York law, drafted earlier and left uncorrected, has criminalized abortion care later in pregnancy.

“Today’s opinion by the attorney general is critical confirmation that women have a right to adequate medical care and reproductive choice in New York state,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The confusion caused by our state’s outdated and punitive abortion law has kept too many women from the care they need, with devastating consequences. For patients, state agencies, hospitals and other providers there should be no further doubt that Roe v Wade is the law of the land.”

New York’s abortion law was last modified in 1970, three years before the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision and has not been updated since. As a result, health care providers in New York state have too often felt compelled to deny women the care they need later in pregnancy, even if their health is in danger and their fetus is not viable.

“As a result of legal confusion in New York, patients and providers have shared wrenching stories with us of women who faced medical peril, extreme cost and devastating loss,” said NYCLU Policy Counsel Katharine Bodde. “Their suffering was needless, and today’s decision is an important step toward ensuring no more women face the same fate. The state legislature should now take the final step and reform our state law.”

The NYCLU has been collecting the stories of women affected by the state law’s unconstitutional restrictions for a report to be released next year. It will include stories of women who, because of the state law, had to travel out of state at great cost and risk to their health, as well as women who were unable to get the safest medical care. The report will demonstrate the urgency for the state legislature to reform the New York’s abortion law.

To read the opinion, visit: http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/AG_abortion_opinion.pdf

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