What is The Reproductive Health Act? A bill that will strengthen New York laws and safeguard our rights from being eroded by the Supreme Court
Reproductive Rights Law 101 • Regulation of health care, including abortion, is generally left to states • Roe v. Wade held that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a woman’s right to decide whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy until fetal viability, and afterwards if her life or health is at risk • Therefore, states can regulate abortion up to viability as long as it does not place an “undue burden” on the right to obtain an abortion, and can outlaw abortion after viability as long as there are exceptions for a woman’s life or health
Why we need the Reproductive Health Act • Our laws are out of date • Our laws do not affirmatively guarantee the right to choose • Our laws still regulate abortion as a crime • Our laws do not have a “health exception”
What the Reproductive Health Act does • Guarantees a woman’s right to control her reproductive health • Ensures that a woman will be able to have an abortion if her health is endangered • Treats the regulation of abortion as an issue of public health, rather than as a potential crime • Guarantees everyone the right to use or refuse contraception
How does the Reproductive Health Act do those things? • It adds an affirmative guarantee of the right to choose or refuse abortion and birth control • It takes regulation of abortion out of criminal law and regulates it as a public health issue • It adds a health exception
Other provisions of RHA • RHA stiffens penalties for crimes against pregnant women resulting in pregnancy loss • Maintains important health and safety protections • Later procedures must be done in “Article 28” facilities (which are licensed and more heavily supervised by the state) • Only licensed, trained health care providers can offer abortion care
Myths and Facts about RHA Opponents said RHA would: • Force providers with religious objections to perform abortions • Allow unqualified providers (like podiatrists, dentists, etc.) to provide abortions • Open the floodgates to abortion
RHA preserves religious freedom • The bill preserves existing conscience protections in New York and federal law that allow individuals and health care facilities to refuse to provide abortion if they have religious or moral objections • The bill will therefore not require any private health care entity to provide or pay for abortion
Only licensed trained health care providers can provide abortions • A health care provider who offers abortion without proper training, or who operates outside of his/her scope of practice, commits professional misconduct • Penalties include fines and loss of license • “Back alley” providers can be convicted of unlicensed practice of medicine, a felony offense
RHA will not change provision of abortion in NY except in rare cases • The legislation would allow abortions up to the time of fetal viability, and after that point only if the woman’s life or health is in danger • Current law permits abortion up to 24 weeks (=viability) • The health exception, while not written in the law, is already a constitutional requirement • Almost all abortions (89%) are already performed in the first trimester, and fewer than 1% are performed after 21 weeks
The need for a health exception • Sometimes women learn they are carrying a fetus with genetic anomalies or experience pregnancy complications that place their life or health at risk • Health risks for women include: dangerously high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and infertility • Fetal anomalies include: Trisomy 13/18, anencephaly • Every situation is different and it important that a woman's doctor be able to use his/her best medical judgment whether a woman's health is at risk • Government policy should not interfere in these private, personal decisions
New Yorkers support the Reproductive Health Act! • Three quarters of New York voters support the Reproductive Health Act, even after hearing arguments against the bill. • The majority of voters would vote for a candidate who supports the Reproductive Health Act.* * Source: NARAL Global Strategy Group poll, 2008.
Advocacy for the Reproductive Health Act • The Reproductive Health Act will be introduced in the state legislature later this year • We already have the support of at least 40 assembly members and 18 state senators • RRP has trained hundreds of “grass tops” leaders in communities across NYS to advocate for reform of New York law Like You!
We Need Your Help • Write your legislator and ask them to sign on in support of the Reproductive Health Act(postcards are at the door) • Become a “Reproductive Health Ambassador”—contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information • Lobby your legislators in-district • Host a house party • Come to Albany for the next lobby day
We can help you get active! Check out the toolkit on our website, including: • A colorful brochure • A guide to throwing house parties • A “Q&A” about the bill • Links to e-action alerts, to write to legislators • Links to our videos • 10 minute “Another New Yorker” video • 3 minute YouTube video Go to www.nyclu.org/rha