New York legalized abortion in 1970, but today abortion care is still regulated in the criminal code, which is out of step with constitutional protections and current medical realities. The Governor’s budget proposes fully repealing abortion from New York’s penal code, moving the regulation of abortion, like all other medical procedures, to the Public Health and Education Laws.
Why is this important?
- Although the vast majority of women who need abortion in New York seek care at a health care facility, some are unable or reluctant to access clinic-based abortion care – for example, women who are low-income, live in rural or other underserved communities, or whose immigration status makes them wary of seeking care from the formal medical system, particularly in this political environment. When a woman needs to end a pregnancy and is unable to obtain abortion from health care providers, she may induce an abortion on her own. New York law explicitly makes it illegal for her to do so, and threatens criminal penalties if she does. New York is one of the handful of states that has laws on the books that explicitly make self-administered abortion illegal.Abortion is critical health care that makes a difference in women’s lives — not a crime. Our laws must reflect that.
- New York law is currently inconsistent with constitutional protections and best medical practice. Because New York law does not explicitly allow for care after 24 weeks when a pregnant individual’s health is at risk or the fetus is not viable (both constitutionally-protected circumstances), New York providers may not feel legally safe to provide this care. In their moment of need, women are sent out of state, on their own dime, to get the care they need. This is inhumane. Decriminalizing abortion would remove this unconstitutional conflict in our law. The constitutional protections of Roe will continue to apply in New York State.