New Law Makes It Easier For New Yorkers To Get Third-Trimester Abortions

New Law Makes It Easier For New Yorkers To Get Third-Trimester Abortions

Doctors in New York state already perform a staggering number of abortions annually, but sure, let's expand opportunities for abortions at a gestational stage when babies can survive outside the womb.

Yesterday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed expansive new abortion legislation into law, effectively making it easier for state residents to obtain post-viability, third-trimester abortions. The old text of the law allowed third-trimester abortions to be sought if the mother’s health was endangered; the just-passed Reproductive Health Act (RHA) expands the law to allow late-term abortions if the mother’s health can be harmed, a much more permissive standard than before.

The bill also decriminalizes the act of abortion, moving it out of the state’s penal code, and defines a “person” as “a human being who has been born and is alive.” Per the text of the bill, “an abortion may be performed by a licensed, certified, or authorized practitioner within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or [if] there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient’s life or health.”

Now that last part is where it gets tricky. How could “protecting a patient’s…health” be construed? Doe v. Bolton (a Roe v. Wade companion case) defines the health of the mother as “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient.” It’s easy to see how an ideological abortion practitioner, hellbent on securing an abortion for a patient, could conveniently use this new wording to justify a late-term abortion.

Many other pro-life and conservative outlets have distorted this into headlines claiming that abortion will be allowed “up to birth, for any reason.” That’s not quite true, because presumably some sort of scrutiny will be applied to abortions post-24 weeks by the physicians involved, unless they have truly no sense of medical ethics. But pro-lifers are right to be alarmed since it’s hard to say the degree to which the bill is giving a carte blanche to abortionists. It certainly doesn’t legally restrain them from performing an abortion on a completely developed baby.

Late-term abortions are cruel and heinous, but they also constitute a very small percentage of total abortions performed in the state (about 2.3 percent of abortions in 2016 were post-20 weeks) and it’s unlikely that we’ll suddenly see an abortion free-for-all.

On the other hand, many pro-choice and left-leaning outlets have lauded this legislation for “expanding abortion access.” That is accurate, but it’s strangely euphemistic to focus on “access” and “rights” instead of acknowledging the crux of the issue: ending the lives of the unborn, and winning the ability to do so once they’re older and more developed, is what we’re going after here. What a strange thing to celebrate.

The most frustrating part of all of this, though, is the cognitive dissonance of so many people. Where those of us on the pro-life side see expanded “access” to a deranged practice, other people see an opportunity to decorate One World Trade Center in… celebratory pink lights.

It’s also not as if New York doesn’t perform enough abortions already. In 2016, practitioners in the state performed 82,189 abortions. In 2015, there were 392 abortions for every 1,000 live births in the entire state.

Meanwhile, Cuomo released an unsurprisingly buzzword-filled statement:

“Today we are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own personal health, including the ability to access an abortion. With the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body.”

Of course, this is the same Cuomo who said, in 2014:

“You have a schism within the Republican Party. … They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican Party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party?…Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

To that I’d say: Is this who pro-choice progressives are? People who light up buildings in celebratory colors because women fought and won the hard-earned right to abort their babies post-viability?

Liz Wolfe is a contributor at The Federalist, based in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter.
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