Fact Check

Myth: A woman’s right to choose is already guaranteed in New York State.
Fact: Clinics that provide abortion services currently operate throughout New York State through federal, not state,  regulations.  New York State law has not been updated since Roe v. Wade was decided, so many aspects of the NYS law have been unenforceable since 1973.  In fact, current NYS law classifies abortion as a criminal offense, rather than a health matter.  The RHA modifies these clauses to bring New York State in line with federal protections and to positively state that New York supports a woman’s right to choose.

Myth: Under the Reproductive Health Act, women can seek abortions without any regulations or restrictions during a nine month pregnancy.
Fact: The RHA is aligned with Roe v. Wade.  In practice, this means that abortions are permitted under the RHA until a fetus reaches viability (at 24 weeks) and thereafter if the woman’s life is endangered.  Rather than rewriting the rules or coercing women to seek abortions, the RHA reaffirms that the decision to have an abortion should be considered a private medical decision of the woman and her doctor.  The inherient interest to protect life is reinforced by the RHA’s specification that, “in the case of an abortion performed after a fetus is considered viable, the procedure may be delayed for the arrival of a second physician to take charge of a live birth,” if the delay will not jeopardize the woman’s life or health.

Myth: By removing abortions from the Criminal code, New Yorkers are disempowered from seeking criminal damages for any acts associated with abortions.
Fact: The removal of abortions from the criminal code will have no real legal effects as New York’s  law has been unenforceable since abortions were legalized at the federal level.   Yet, the RHA reaffirms existing legal provisions that permit recourse to be sought if the termination of pregnancy jeopardizes the woman’s health or is involuntary.  These guarantees are based on privacy rights that protect women from malpractice and from undergoing unwanted medical procedures.  Practitioners can be subject to professional sanctions, civil liability, or criminal prosecution should their actions in the performance of an abortion overstep the regulations of their conduct.  Additionally, assaults that result in the termination of pregnancy remain criminally liable.

Myth: Under the Reproductive Health Act, anyone can perform an abortion.
Fact: The RHA reiterates that sanctions will continue to be applied “if an unlicensed person performs an abortion,  makes a viability determination, or holds himself or herself out as being able to do so.”  Individuals who act as abortion providers without the necessary professional licenses and education  may be prosecuted, like any other unlicensed medical professional, for the unauthorized practice of a profession, a class E felony.

Myth: The Reproductive Health Act would prohibit any health care providers from declining to provide abortions.
Fact: The Reproductive Health Act maintains the existing conscience protections in New York State and federal law.  These guidelines allow individuals and health care facilities to refuse to provide or pay for abortions if they have religious or moral objections.

Myth: The Reproductive Health Act eliminates informed-consent requirements for pregnant women.
Fact: This legislation does not adjust existing requirements for informed-consent.  In fact, RHA reiterates that the consent of the pregnant woman must be received by the acting duly licensed physician before any medical services are rendered, including abortions.

Myth: The Reproductive Health Act will be costly to New York taxpayers.
Fact:  This bill is anticipated to have no fiscal implication as its focus is on bringing NYS law in line with present federal interpretations of the U.S. Constitution.

Myth: The Reproductive Health Act is only concerned with amending regulations on abortions.
Fact: The RHA includes clauses which prohibit discriminating against the exercise of reproductive  rights in the provision of benefits, of facilities, of services, and of information.  Additionally, this legislation conforms to federal regulations for the sale and distribution of contraceptives to minors under the age of sixteen.  This entails that minors may receive non-prescription contraceptives without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Myth: The clauses in the Reproductive Health Act providing for contraception to be distributed without parental consent encourage minors to engage in sex.
Fact: Current education law prohibits “the sale and distribution of contraceptives to minors under the age of sixteen, requires the sale of contraceptives to person who are sixteen or over may be authorized only by a licensed pharmacist, and prohibits the advertisement or display of contraceptives.”  The RHA eliminates this statute as it has been completely unenforceable since it, as applied to non-prescription contraceptives, was found unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in 1977.  This means that the processes by which minors can receive contraception are unchanged by this legislation.

Myth: The Reproductive Health Act is unnecessary as the privacy rights protections guaranteed by Roe v. Wade are sufficient to ensure a woman’s right to choose.
Fact: Seven other states have already implemented similar legislation since Roe v. Wade was decided.  Since 1973, over 450 bills have been enacted by states across the country to ban or restrict abortion.  Some of these pose direct challenges to Roe v. Wade.  Should one of these challenges overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court, the expansive rights and protections enjoyed by New Yorkers today would be significantly constrained.  

Resources with more information about the Reproductive Health Act :