Governor Andrew Cuomo signs Reproductive Health Act into law

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— On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), co-sponsored by newly elected State Senator Jen Metzger (D-Rosendale), who represents the 42nd District, which includes Warwick, passed the New York State Senate.

The bill also passed the Assembly and in a ceremony at the Governor's mansion, was signed into law on the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

The Reproductive Health Act now allows non-doctors to perform abortions.

It will also effectively allow abortions up to a mother's due date and remove all criminal penalties as well as protections for infants unintentionally born alive during an abortion.

"This legislation," said Metzger, "has been long-awaited by women and men throughout the state, nearly eight out of 10 of whom support empowering a woman's right to reproductive autonomy.

"RHA also has an important provision for rural women who often face poor health outcomes due to lack of access to care," Metzger added. "By enabling licensed nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, and other qualified health care professionals to provide abortion services, this provision will make abortion safer and more accessible in underserved rural communities, where doctors are few and far between."

The legislation was strongly opposed by pro-life organizations, including New York Right to Life and the New York State Catholic Conference.

In an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Bishop of Albany, Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger, whose family lives in Warwick, wrote:

"Contrary to what its proponents say, the RHA goes far beyond Roe vs. Wade in its aggressive extremism. Granting non-doctors permission to perform abortions does nothing to advance the security and health of women. Condoning coerced or involuntary abortions by repealing criminal sanctions even in cases where a perpetrator seeks to make his partner 'un-pregnant' through an act of physical violence does not represent any kind of progress in the choice, safety or health of women.

"Removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion is abject cruelty, something most people of conscience would deem inhumane for even a dog or cat," Scharfenberger added. "Finally, allowing late-term abortions is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will."

- Roger Gavan

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