State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Bay Ridge, Staten Island) this week charged Gov. Andrew Cuomo with misleading state residents with signing the Reproductive Health Act legislation because it creates a loophole that will allow for late-term abortion.
The measure is being heralded as codifying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe V. Wade, which ruled a woman has rights over her own body and can choose to terminate a pregnancy, but it must be balanced against the state’s interests in regulating abortions: protecting women’s health and protecting the potentiality of human life.
The bill, which goes into effect immediately acts to, “amend the public health law, in relation to enacting the reproductive health act and revising existing provisions of law regarding abortion; to amend the penal law, the criminal procedure law, the county law and the judiciary law, in relation to abortion; to repeal certain provisions of the public health law relating to abortion; to repeal certain provisions of the education law relating to the sale of contraceptives; and to repeal certain provisions of the penal law relating to abortion.”
In her floor speech Malliotakis outlines her problems with the law. In her opinion the law does not simply “codify” Roe v. Wade as the Governor stated.
Specifically she is referring to the amendments which take abortion out from under NY’s definitions of homicide. She believes the removal of the words “or an unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than twenty-four weeks” from the definition of homicide is short-sighted. Fetal death from domestic violence or assault would not be able to count as murder under this new definition.
Malliotakis said the language of the law is slightly too broad for her taste. Whereas before the right to an abortion was as stated, “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,” now the law includes that the abortion “-is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” Malliotakis says the addition of the words, “or health” in section 2599-bb makes the right to abortion far open to interpretation, and could allow late term abortion.
Additionally she disagrees with the 2599-bb for its use of its word choice of, “health care practitioner,” rather than the word physician as again, it is too broad.
“The Governor has not been truthful with the people of New York State. This bill does not simply codify Roe v. Wade. It allows for abortion to take place up until birth, removes the requirement that doctors performs them and that a second practitioner be present during late term abortions in case a live birth occurs,” said Malliotakis. “Furthermore, this bill eliminates criminal penalties where domestic violence or assault may lead to the loss of an unborn baby.”
But while Malliotakis was up in arms about the new amendments, many of Brooklyn’s democratic lawmakers are applauding its progressive nature.
“Upstaters and downstaters, men and women, Democrats and Republicans all agree on a woman’s right to choose. This is not an issue that divides us,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “The Reproductive Health Act corrects our archaic state law, which criminalizes abortion, and affirms reproductive choice as a matter of privacy. At a time when reproductive rights are under attack in Washington, I applaud our lawmakers for standing up and fighting back in Albany.”
“Today’s votes are a victory long overdue. Forty-six years ago to the day, the Supreme Court affirmed in Roe v. Wade that women have a fundamental and irrevocable right to make their own reproductive decisions,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D- East Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatlands, Marine Park, Midwood). “In the over four decades since, New York State has relied on that decision alone as its own laws grew more and more out of date and the court grew more and more conservative.”
“Since the beginnings of this country, it has been a struggle for women to gain the right to agency that is due to them,” says Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Ditmas Park, and Midwood). “The Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was a major achievement after a long history of paternalistic regulations that sought to control women’s authority over their own bodies. The idea that a woman cannot make her own decisions pertaining to her body is rooted in misogyny, sexism and inequality. I voted for this bill because I think it is yet another achievement that rightfully swings pendulum back to women deciding for themselves.”