New York State once led the nation in advancing women’s rights. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to re-establish that pre-eminence with an omnibus agenda on women’s equality. The most important piece of that agenda would essentially enshrine in state law existing federal protections for abortion rights.
Antiquated language in the state’s abortion law bans the procedure after 24 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is at risk. Federal rulings also require an exception to protect a woman’s health. Mr. Cuomo’s proposal would bring New York into line with those standards.
This is important because complications severely affecting a woman’s health often arise later in pregnancy. Although New York’s law cannot be enforced because it is superseded by federal law, as a practical matter, some New York doctors fear prosecution and, as a result, some women are forced to leave the state to get the care they need. Mr. Cuomo’s proposal is a crucial move at a crucial time. A strong law would help inoculate New York’s abortion laws against future watering down of reproductive rights at the federal level.
This is an editorial in the New York Times. Tom