On January 22, 2019, the New York State Senate Republican Conference stood united in opposition to the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). Last week, Senate Republicans drew attention to one of the many destructive consequences of the RHA by proposing a hostile amendment on the Senate floor.
A hostile amendment is a procedural mechanism by which a legislator attempts to amend a bill without the consent of its sponsor. Typically, after a legislator proposes a hostile amendment, the person chairing the proceedings will make a ruling on whether the amendment is germane (or relevant) to the bill being voted upon. If the chair deems the amendment to be non-germane (or irrelevant) to the bill being voted upon, the legislator introducing the hostile amendment can move to overrule the chair’s determination as to its relevance. The entire legislative body then votes on that motion.
In New York, hostile amendments are typically used by the minority party to express opposition to the majority party’s policies, or to try to pass a bill that the majority refuses to consider. Some New Yorkers may recall that Senate Democrats used hostile amendments to push abortion expansion legislation in 2013 and again in 2018.
On February 5, 2019, Senate Republicans proposed a hostile amendment to restore certain record-keeping requirements relating to abortion that had been repealed by the RHA. According to Sen. Daphne Jordan (R-Halfmoon), the amendment would have required attending physicians to “[maintain] all life-sustaining efforts if an abortion results in a live birth, and [keep records on] whether efforts to sustain a baby’s life succeeded or failed.”
While the hostile amendment was voted down, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms appreciates Senate Republicans’ continued efforts to combat the RHA.