Why are you so obsessed with the Reproductive Health Act?
Reproductive rights have never been more threatened (at least, not in the past 50 years), with both the GOP-led Congress and the Trump administration targeting them. We fear that it’s only a matter of time before the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, meaning that the ability for a woman to access a safe and legal abortion is then left up to individual states.
We live in New York—so we’re safe, right?
You’d think so—but New York hasn’t updated its abortion law since 1970! (Quick history check: Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, so NY’s law actually predates the seminal court case.) And the law is exactly what you’d expect from something that is 48 years old: It criminalizes abortion, has no exception for the health of the woman or if the fetus is not viable, and only allows doctors (rather than advanced practice clinicians, like nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants) to perform abortions.
WTF! That sounds bad.
It is—not only for New Yorkers, but for women across the country who rely on our state as a reproductive rights haven. In 2014, 12.9% of all abortions in America were performed in New York; as more and more states pass ultra-restrictive laws, that number could go up. And once Roe v. Wade is overturned? New York could be one of the few states that hasn’t outright banned abortion. That’s why we need to update our law—for New Yorkers, yes, but also for all Americans.
So how do we do that?
We either get Governor Cuomo and the State Assembly and Senate leaders to move abortion out of the penal code as part of their 2019 budget (which they finalize in the spring of 2018) or we get the Reproductive Health Act to pass the State Assembly and Senate. This bill would update New York’s abortion law, not only bringing it in line with the standard of Roe v. Wade, but also expanding it.
It would codify in New York the protections currently recognized by the US Supreme Court, treat abortion as health care (instead of as a criminal act), protect health care providers who perform these vital services, and enshrine the constitutional standard that women can access abortion care throughout pregnancy when her health or life is at risk or the fetus is not viable. Ultimately, it affirms that it’s a fundamental right for a woman to have control over her own body in New York State.
So what’s the hold up?
The bill needs to pass the New York State Senate—and that’s where we have a problem. For the past four years, the bill has stalled in the Senate. Rally+Rise believes that if we organize ourselves and put pressure on elected officials, we can change that in 2018.
I’m in! What’s the game plan?
Glad you asked: Check out our Action Plan, which outlines what you can do to make a difference. (Spoiler: You actually have way more power than you realize.) Also check out our upcoming events, as we’ve always got something in the works—from letter-writing parties to super-informative panels and workshops. And if you’re still not sure what to do, just email us and we’ll get you set up!