Protecting abortion rights is a top priority for the state legislature as the 2022 legislative session draws to a close.
Both the Assembly and the Senate on Tuesday passed bills to make it easier for women to travel to New York state for abortions or to make it harder for governments or citizens of other states to sue. suing New York health care providers who perform abortions. The legislation passed this week is part of a flurry of activity spurred by the Supreme Court’s leaked decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that could overrule Roe v. Wade.
“There is nothing democratic about a handful of people unilaterally overriding laws that are universally supported by the majority of Americans,” said Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers and Senate Majority Leader. “That’s why the leaked Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe is our five-alarm fire. The criminalization of women’s bodies and doctors fulfilling their sacred oath is only the beginning of what we could lose. Not a single freedom we now enjoy is secure or guaranteed unless, I am told, it is in the original document, which is rather frightening. Too many people think they can steal our democracy without us realizing it until it’s too late, but we in this place will not sit idly by while these basic rights are chipped away around we. We will no longer wait for Congress to act. The states are the last line of defense against these authoritarian tendencies and a final check on an irresponsible federal government. New York once ruled the nation. We’ll do it again.”
Legislation passed on Tuesday includes:
¯ A.10094/S.9039, which establishes a cause of action for unlawful interference with protected rights;
¯ A10372/S.9077, which provides legal protections to abortion service providers. The bill passed the Assembly 100-49 with MK Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and MK Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, voting against.
¯ A.9818/S.9384, which provides for address confidentiality to protect reproductive health service providers, employees, volunteers, patients, or immediate family members of reproductive health service providers. He passed the Assembly 135-14, with Goodell voting against and Giglio voting for.
¯ S.0908/A.9718, which prohibits medical malpractice insurance companies from taking adverse action against a reproductive health care provider who provides lawful reproductive health care. The bill passed the Senate 41 to 22, with Borrello voting against. It has not yet been adopted by the Assembly.
¯ S.9384/A.9818, which includes abortion providers and patients in the Address Privacy Program. Borrello was one of nine votes against the legislation in the Senate. Goodell was one of 14 votes against the measure in the Assembly while Giglio voted in favor.
Borrello offered a counterpoint to Stewart-Cousins, saying the end-of-term activity won’t mean major changes for New York residents, regardless of what happens with the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs. New York codified Roe v. Wade into law in 2019 with the New York Reproductive Health Act, which allows practitioners to perform an abortion on a patient after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the fetus is not viable or the abortion is necessary to protect the life of the patient. or health. Before 2019, abortions after 24 weeks were only allowed when the mother’s life was in danger.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we talked about a lot of bills today,” he said. “The extra schedule, most of it is really for show, honestly. There really isn’t much going to happen here because if Roe v. Wade is canceled tomorrow, you can still have an abortion until the moment of birth here in upstate New York. This will not change. I’m personally abhorred by this, but that’s not going to change. So what it really is, this little set of bills today, is more or less the One Party Rule Preservation Act. Nothing much will happen with any of these bills today.
LIMITED-SERVICE PREGNANCY CENTER STUDY
Borrello was speaking against S.470/A.5499, sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-New York City, which creates a study on the unmet health and resource needs faced by pregnant women in New York and the impact of “limited service pregnancy centers” on women’s ability to obtain accurate and non-coercive health care information and to access a full range of reproductive and sexual health services. Hoylman’s bill targets pregnancy centers, which he says offer limited pregnancy-related services, such as pregnancy tests or ultrasounds, run by organizations whose primary goal is to persuade pregnant women and adolescent girls to choose to continue the pregnancy.
“I guess my concern here is that we’re going to create a study to study one side of what counts as pregnancy advice,” said Borello. “We are going to study these people whose mission is really to say that we want to provide information and alternatives to abortion. It is their mission. Now we could say they don’t talk about abortion. This may or may not be the case. But at the end of the day, we have these people who perform abortions, and in the case of organizations like Planned Parenthood, they actually get funding by selling fetal tissue, fetal organs to organizations for a very large amount , and this is part of their funding. . So I don’t see what incentive they have to advise the other way. So if we’re going to do a study, let’s do a full study and see what’s really going on with those who provide abortion services and those who provide services to support pregnant women. This bill does not do that. What this does is it targets those who like to provide an alternative to abortion and also other services as Senator Hoylman mentioned. They provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, diapers, information. But to sit here and say we’re going to target a particular segment of these women’s health services is just not fair.
RIGHT TO SUE LEGISLATION
A.10094/S.9039 passed the Assembly by a vote of 100 to 49, with Goodell and Giglio voting against the bill while it passed the Senate 41 to 22 with Borrello voting against. Sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Burdick, D-Mt. Kisco and Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx, the legislation allows those who travel to New York for abortions to cross-sue in other states that would file civil or criminal charges. Goodell said the bill was too broad and likely to create unrelated issues for New York residents.
“This bill establishes a cause of action for interference with anyone’s attempt to perform or facilitate or attempt to facilitate access to medical services,” said Goodel. “And the bill specifically talks about reproductive health, but it goes on to say that it is by no means limited to reproductive health. And so, unfortunately, this bill would apply in situations where you have a family that disagrees about an elderly parent who is unconscious. And that sometimes happens with families. And you don’t know whether they should keep the elderly parent on life support or end the life support. And the very wording of this bill would trigger that situation and potentially create liability for one son or daughter against another son or daughter based on health care decisions they might make. I think that’s way beyond the sponsor’s intent, but that’s what the wording says. This would also apply in wrongful death situations. So it has very wide ramifications in New York that go far beyond just reproductive health. The last thing I would mention is that this bill is intended to give you a cause of action if a court in another state or a lawsuit in another state involves some of the other parties. New York simply does not have jurisdiction to create a cause of action in New York that applies to persons who do not reside in New York but do business outside of New York. So, because of these constitutional restrictions and the very broad language, I would recommend that my colleagues vote against it.
Burdick disagreed with Goodell’s characterization of the bill and said the legislation simply protects rights that are protected by New York law.
“So if someone from out of state is attacking those rights, then New York State has what I believe is both a moral obligation and has the legal right to defend those rights and the individual whose rights are being attacked may simply have a cause of action against the person who is infringing those rights. It’s a very simple approach, which doesn’t involve the state at all. I think the concerns of the previous speaker are a bit of a stretch I think this bill is really needed so that we can protect those who come to New York State to seek services that may not be available to them or may be illegal in their State of origin.”