As Albany Update previously reported, the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) became law on January 22, 2019.
This radical legislation:
- Removed abortion-related crimes from the books in cases where pregnant women miscarry after being assaulted;
- Allows third-trimester abortions for any reason (removing ambiguity that was present in existing law);
- Allows abortions to be performed by medical personnel other than physicians; and
- Made it legal for viable babies born alive following late-term abortions to be denied medical care.
At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we are deeply grieved by the passage of this anti-life bill. However, we are heartened by the bipartisan opposition that the bill faced in both the State Senate and the State Assembly. The Senate voted 38-24 to pass the RHA, and the Assembly vote was 95-49. No Republicans voted for the RHA in either house, and nine Democrats—two in the Senate and seven in the Assembly—bravely swam against the pro-abortion tide in their own party by voting “no.” (Curious how your elected officials voted on the RHA? Please view the Senate vote record here and the Assembly vote record here. Unsure which elected officials represent you? Please visit New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms’ Legislative Action Center to find out.)
Prior to the Senate vote on the RHA, Senate Republicans held a press conference with Livia Abreu, a former servicewoman who had a miscarriage after being attacked and stabbed by an ex-boyfriend. The Republicans pointed out that the RHA will remove “criminal penalties applied to perpetrators of domestic violence against pregnant women.”
During the floor debate on the RHA, Sen. Cathy Young (R-Olean) introduced a hostile amendment that would have made it a Class D felony to “knowingly [assault] a pregnant woman” whether or not the assault caused a miscarriage. Sadly, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul ruled that amendment to be non-germane (in other words, irrelevant) to the RHA, and her ruling was upheld by a full Senate vote.
Various senators raised thoughtful objections to the RHA. Sen. Pat Gallivan (R-Elma) spoke of viewing a ultrasound during his wife’s pregnancy and seeing their baby’s heartbeat. Sen. George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) pointed out the dangers that the RHA poses to women’s health. Sen. Daphne Jordan (R-Halfmoon) argued, “’A baby inside its mother is not an inanimate object, it’s a life. It has a heartbeat. It can hiccup. It can kick. It can hear [its] mother’s voice and music. It can feel pain. The next time you throw something away or hear a baby cry in pain, think of what you’re allowing to be tossed away with a ”yes“ vote.’”
In the Assembly, staunchly pro-life Asm. David DiPietro (R-East Aurora) delivered an impassioned defense of the unborn, using medical facts on fetal development to illustrate the unique humanity of each unborn child. Asm. DiPietro also quoted Jeremiah 1:5, which reads, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.” Asm. Andy Goodell reminded his colleagues that “we will be judged on how we treat those who don’t have a voice.”