New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is working on legislation to allow women in his state the right to late-term abortions if their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable, rewriting a state law that only allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the mother's life is at risk.
The state's current law isn't enforced because federal courts have ruled that late-term abortions are allowed to protect a woman's health, even though she is not in danger of death, reports The New York Times
. According to abortion rights supporters, the more-restrictive state law causes some women to leave the state for late-term procedures.
The Democratic governor's proposal, which he has yet to make public, also says licensed healthcare practitioners, and not only doctors, would legally be able to perform abortions, regulating them through the state's public health law.
Cuomo, who has widely been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, outlined the plan in general terms as part of a package of women's rights initiatives in his State of the State address in January.
Cuomo's plan may face difficulty getting passed. The State Assembly is controlled by Democrats, who support abortion rights, while the Senate is controlled by Republicans who oppose new abortion laws. However, there are some Democrats in the Senate who support abortion rights.
New York first legalized abortion in 1970, three years before the Supreme Court legalized it through the Roe vs. Wade decision. Cuomo's plan updates state law, so it can stand alone should the Roe decision be made obsolete.
Abortion opponents say rewriting the law will encourage more abortions since health reasons could be used as a loophole to allow late-term abortions to occur.
Only seven other states, including California, Connecticut, and Maryland have laws guaranteeing abortion rights, with Hawaii, in 2006, being the most recent state to pass such a law.
Republican lawmakers say they object to rewriting the state's abortion laws, and will fight Cuomo's plans. Assemblyman Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said the debate is unnecessary, since abortion is already legal in New York, and allowing late-term abortions for health reasons is “just wrong.”
“You could have an abortion up until the day the child would be born, and that's just wrong,” Skelos said.
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