ALBANY, N.Y. — Liberal New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who has decried what he calls “extreme conservative” politicians who impose on the people by law “their view of what God says should be done,” has signed into law a bill that not only codifies, but also expands abortion access in the state, allowing babies to be killed during the third trimester if they are not expected to survive or if they are deemed to threaten the health or life of the mother.
“Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion,” the Reproductive Health Act reads in part. “A health care practitioner … may perform an abortion when … the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”
The legislation passed the state Senate 38-24 and the Assembly 92-47 on Tuesday—the day marking the 46th year of Roe v. Wade—and was quickly signed into law the same day by Cuomo, who was joined during the signing ceremony by Sarah Ragle Weddington, the attorney who had represented Roe before the Supreme Court.
As previously reported, Roe, who later came forward as Norma McCorvey, admitted in her 1994 book “I Am Roe” that her case was a lie, outlining that she made up the claim that she had been raped at the advice of her feminist attorneys to make her effort more convincing.
McCorvey also never obtained an abortion, but put her daughter up for adoption and went on to become a vocal pro-life advocate, even going to court in an effort to overturn the ruling.
“My decisions were wrong and I am fighting with every breath to change what has occurred,” McCorvey, who died in 2017, said in 2008.
Cuomo praised Waddington during his speech, and also presented her with an award for “public service,” telling her “God bless you” as he kissed her on the cheek.
“In many ways, Sarah, what you did is what we as a collective try to do. You made such a difference in your life. You’ve been such an example for so many. Rarely has such a precedent been so powerful for so long,” he stated. “And they way you did it, taking on all the odds—you couldn’t write a better story or heroism or courage or leadership.”
“Sarah, that is such a beautiful public service. That is such a precedent that had driven laws all across the nation,” Cuomo remarked.
He told those gathered that the event that he believed the bill was necessary because he feared that Roe v. Wade would be overturned by the Supreme Court and that he needed to “protect our state.” As previously reported, Cuomo had refused to sign the budget bill this coming April without the passage of the Reproductive Health Act.
“We should not be here in the first place. We should not have a federal government that is trying to roll back women’s rights,” Cuomo stated. “This administration defies American evolution. We’re supposed to be moving forward. We’re supposed to be advancing. We’re supposed to live and learn. We’re supposed to be growing.”
He again called for the presentation of a ballot initiative, which would codify what he called “a woman’s right to control her own body” in the New York Constitution. The constitutional amendment would be in addition to the legislation that he signed Tuesday evening, so as to prevent any efforts by future leadership to restrict or do away with abortion “rights.”
Cuomo claimed that the issue is a matter of “equality,” comparing it to his efforts for “marriage equality.”
“This has been too long coming, and it has been too obvious and too unfair. Women’s equality in the law and in the constitution for all,” he stated, generating applause.
View Cuomo’s remarks and the signing ceremony in full here.
According to video footage posted online, the Senate chambers broke into standing cheers and applause after the bill was passed.
One World Trade Center was also lit pink overnight to celebrate the passage of the so-called Reproductive Health Act, according to Joseph Spector of the Albany Democrat & Chronicle.
In addition to allowing babies to be aborted at any time if they are deemed non-viable or if the mother’s health or life is stated to be jeopardized, the legislation also removes protections for babies who survive attempted abortions and eliminates language from criminal statutes that would prosecute an individual for acts that result in the death of an unborn baby. Non-physicians, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives, will additionally now be permitted to perform abortions.
Such is why pro-life groups have deemed the legislation an abortion access expansion bill, and not just codification.
“The legislature finds that comprehensive reproductive health care, including contraception and abortion, is a fundamental component of a woman’s health, privacy and equality,” the bill reads. “Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States; the goal of medical regulation should be to improve the quality and availability of healthcare services.”
Groups such as New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms were among those who actively opposed the legislation, while also acknowledging that it would likely pass due to the Democratic control of the state legislature.
“New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms opposes the Reproductive Health Act in the strongest possible terms. We respectfully call upon members of the legislature to summon the courage and compassion to vote against it,” it wrote in a Memorandum of Opposition.
Among its numerous concerns, the organization lamented the legislation’s expansion into the “health” of the mother, which it believes is a broad term that could be utilized for virtually any reason. It pointed to the 1973 Supreme Court case of Doe v. Bolton, which determined that “medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”
“By passing the RHA, the state legislature has embraced the proposition that some living human beings do not deserve the protection of our laws. This proposition flies in the face of our American tradition of respect for human life. Without the right to life, the other rights guaranteed in the Constitution have no meaning,” Executive Director Jason McGuire said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“Contrary to the rhetoric of RHA advocates, abortion access does nothing to advance the rights of women; rather, it invites both women and men to view unborn children—their own unborn children—as disposable objects,” he remarked. “Rather than expanding access to abortion, the State of New York ought to promote adoption in crisis pregnancy situations.”
As previously reported, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once outlined that the life or health of the mother is never a reason for an abortion as doctors will simply deliver the baby in order to save both lives.
“Protection of the life of the mother as an excuse for an abortion is a smoke screen. In my 36 years of pediatric surgery, I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life,” he said. “If toward the end of the pregnancy complications arise that threaten the mother’s health, the doctor will induce labor or perform a Caesarean section.”
“[The doctor’s] intention is to save the life of both the mother and the baby,” Koop continued. “The baby’s life is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger.”
2 Kings 21:16 reads, “Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”