New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced that his state’s new abortion law, perversely named the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), will “ensure a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own personal health” and codify the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision into New York law.
But a closer look reveals it does neither.
In a general sense, this law came into being because both houses of the New York legislature are under clear Democratic control for the first time in many decades.
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Liberals foresee doom for Roe v. Wade if Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires or dies and President Donald Trump nominates a conservative to replace her. (His first two nominees, of course — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — are today seated on the high court).
Advocates for New York’s latest measure hope to preserve the spirit of the abortion law at the state level even if the high court reverses the federal law.
And other states, including Virginia, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, have either expanded abortion access or are attempting to strip restrictions from the books.
But the majority opinion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case better delineated the boundaries for states wishing to restrict abortion than it gave free rein to no-holds-barred infanticide.
“If the state is interested in protecting fetal life after viability [the point at which a baby could survive outside of the womb], it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
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Roe v. Wade roughly defined a pregnancy’s third trimester as the generally understood point of viability. And more than 91 percent of abortions took place at or before the 13-week mark, the end of the first trimester, according to 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another 7.6 percent were done at 14-20 weeks of gestation.
So what’s to be gained by a law that allows for the death of infants lively enough to move around and kick in their mothers’ wombs — or even those who survive botched abortions?
As one board-certified OB-GYN noted — nothing.
“There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third-trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no,” tweeted Omar L. Hamada, M.D., whose practice has come under attack since he came out against the RHA.
I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt.
I’m a Board Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies.
There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.
— Omar L. Hamada, MD, MBA (@OmarHamada) January 23, 2019
Another travesty regarding a woman’s “personal health” is related to the initial complaint of Jane Roe, better known today as the late Norma McCorvey, that led to the Roe decision.
McCorvey, quoted Chief Justice Harry Andrew Blackmun, “wished to terminate her pregnancy by an abortion ‘performed by a competent, licensed physician, under safe, clinical conditions.’”
But part of New York’s new law is that non-doctors such as nurse practitioners can now perform abortions in the state.
“Safe, clinical conditions,” as one might expect, would describe facilities that must meet the same criteria as other medical clinics.
“There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third-trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.”
But Planned Parenthood’s legion of attorneys, funded partially by taxpayers, challenge many states’ efforts to enforce safety standards.
Some courts have judged so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws to be unfair, and at least one federal decision, Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Hellerstedt, threw out a Texas law that required abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers, claiming that the law placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions in that state.
Planned Parenthood, however, challenges all efforts to restrict abortion after 20 weeks, specify counseling and waiting periods, mandate ultrasounds, and require parental signoff before minors receive an abortion.
Abortion advocates would prefer to call these living, breathing children “blobs of tissue,” claiming the moral and scientific high ground — though a beating heart should speak the loudest by far.
Ed Perratore is a writer and editor based in New York.