New York to allow late-term abortions for
health at-risk women
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[September 09, 2016]
By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York will allow
late-term abortions for women whose pregnancies endanger their health, a
move that brings the state into federal compliance and ends decades of
confusion faced by patients and providers of the procedure, state
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an opinion publicly on
Thursday to clarify that New Yorkers have all the protections afforded
to women in the United States under the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v.
Wade and are not beholden to the state's more-restrictive abortion law.
"Today's opinion eliminates any ambiguity about the consistency of our
state's law with these federal constitutional rights and, as a result,
removes an obstacle some New York women may encounter when trying to
make their own reproductive health choices," Schneiderman said in a
The state will officially allow late-term abortions if the pregnant
woman's health is at risk or if the fetus is "nonviable," according to
Existing New York law says abortion is a crime unless performed "under a
reasonable belief that such is necessary to preserve (the pregnant
woman's) life," or within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The new opinion also assures reproductive health care providers
operating in New York, such as Planned Parenthood, that "they may
provide constitutionally protected reproductive health care services to
women without fear of being complicit in a criminal act."
The opinion does not change the state's penal code. It clarifies the
state's interpretation of federal law and that the law overrides state
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New York, which was of the first states to legalize access to
abortions, last modified its laws on the procedure in 1970, about
three years before the Roe v. Wade decision.
Civil rights and reproductive health care advocates applauded
"New York's abortion law, once ahead of its time, for too long has
been woefully out of date, causing confusion for providers and
leaving women without the full extent of their
constitutionally-protected right to access abortion," said Andrea
Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.
"Today's opinion by the attorney general is critical confirmation
that women have a right to adequate medical care and reproductive
choice in New York state," said Donna Lieberman, executive director
of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The organization said it plans to release a report next year that
includes a collection of stories by women who were affected by New
York's unconstitutional abortion restriction.
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