NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was reportedly preparing this weekend to finalize a bill that would expand reproductive rights – including access to late-term abortions in some cases.
Specifics of the bill have not been officially released.
But Planned Parenthood outlined a 2009 bill with reportedly similar goals. The 2009 Reproductive Health Act would “guarantee a woman can make her own personal, private health care decisions, especially when her health is endangered,” as well as treat abortion as a public health issue rather than a “potential crime,” and guarantee New Yorkers’ right to receive or refuse contraception as they see fit.
“Current New York law compounds that tragedy when it happens late in pregnancy by making it a potential crime to provide an abortion to protect her health,” Planned Parenthood said. “The Reproductive Health Act will ensure she can get the safe, legal abortion care she needs.”
The current law is not enforced, because it is superseded by federal rulings on late-term abortions, according to a New York Times report.
But Cuomo administrative officials told the newspaper there is a concern that the U.S. Supreme Court could change the rules, leaving the older state restrictions on late-term abortions as the applicable law.
“I think this is not a well-thought-out piece of legislation,” Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said late last month. “The bottom line is, in New York state, abortion is legal, it’s safe.”
Cuomo packaged the abortion rights measure in a women’s rights package that included proposals to assure equal pay, workplace rights, and bills combating abuse against women. At this point, Cuomo has tied all the measures together, requiring the Legislature to approve all or none of the proposals.
He repeated his support for greater abortion protections three times in his State of the State speech, shouting and jabbing his finger to the cheering audience: “Because it’s her body, it’s her choice!”
Discussion and legislation on abortion has gone in the opposite direction, toward stronger restrictions on abortion rights, in many states recently.
Last year, Virginia Gov. Bob McConnell signed a bill that requires women to view an ultrasound before getting an abortion. That bill has drawn particular criticism for its requirement that some women undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound probe.
A similar law is also on the books in Texas, where a woman must undergo a sonogram and hear a doctor’s verbal description of what she is seeing – and even ask the patient if she wants to hear the fetal heartbeat – before an abortion can be performed.
An Illinois lawmaker proposed a similar bill last year that would have required a mother to view an ultrasound before getting an abortion in that state. But after that bill passed out of committee, Democrats added what proponents called “hostile amendments” that would have extended the ultrasound requirement to dozens of other medical procedures from cardiac to testicular operations, and that would have required men to undergo counseling before seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction.
The Illinois bill ultimately died before ever coming up for a vote when the state House of Representatives ended its session in January.
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