NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo is introducing legislation that will ease restrictions on abortions after 23 weeks’ gestation in New York. The law would, first of all, go beyond the usual “life and health of the mother” clause and specify that a pregnancy may be terminated late in the pregnancy if the fetus is not viable. (My understanding is that late termination of a non-viable fetus is generally considered legal under the “health of the mother” clause, already, so this really is just a clarification more than a change.) It would allow licensed health care practitioners, not just doctors, to perform some abortions. And it would remove abortion entirely from penal law and instead regulate it through the state’s health laws.
I don’t know who the Republicans might run against Cuomo next year, but if they come up with some homophobic gun-totin’ Fetus Person, ol’ Andy’s got it in the bag. And if the New York legislature fights him on this, and the issue makes a big splash, it’s going to be a big bag. And yes, I realize upstate is more conservative than the New York City area, but it’s also less populated. And I suspect even the most conservative county in New York is liberal compared to, say, Mississippi. Social conservatism in particular doesn’t go very far in this state.
The governor has said that his Reproductive Health Act would be one plank of a 10-part Women’s Equality Act that also would include equal pay and anti-discrimination provisions. Conservative groups, still stinging from the willingness of Republican lawmakers to go along with Mr. Cuomo’s push to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011, are mobilizing against the proposal. Seven thousand New Yorkers who oppose the measure have sent messages to Mr. Cuomo and legislators via the Web site of the New York State Catholic Conference.
This could be fun. Bring it on.
I was not much impressed with Cuomo early in his first term, as he started out as Mr. Austerity — balance the budget without raising taxes, etc. I’d like to see him make a stronger argument for public investment. But I won’t have any problem voting for him next year.
Naturally, the Fetus People are screaming that Gov. Cuomo is introducing “abortion on demand,” but in effect the only effective difference would be that it clarifies non-viability of a fetus as part of “life and health of the mother.” (Clue to Fetus People: That means the fetus is already dead or has no hope of survival, so you can stop hollering about killing babies, thanks much.) Currently New York has a law on the books that leaves out “health,” but that is not in effect because it’s been overruled by federal courts.