Playing politics with NY abortion
Last Updated:12:02 AM, April 21, 2012
Posted:10:25 PM, April 20, 2012
For more than 40 years, New York women have enjoyed unfettered access to reproductive health and abortion services. Yet state NARAL chief Andrea Miller insists there’s a war on women’s health in New York.
The right to abortion is such a settled issue here that then-Gov. George Pataki (despite his more recent claims to support religious freedom) signed legislation in 2002 requiring the Catholic Church and other religious-affiliated organizations to provide insurance coverage for contraceptive services, including abortion.
And it’s unlikely any Republican elected to statewide office would undermine a woman’s right to choose.
Nevertheless, Miller is pushing for a radical “Reproductive Health Act” that would elevate abortion to a “fundamental right” in New York state, and move laws governing it from the penal code to the health code.
The bill would deregulate abortion by removing the requirements that only a physician may perform an abortion and that late-term abortions be performed only in hospitals rather than outpatient clinics. All abortions in the last trimester of pregnancy would be legal.
In effect, Miller would roll out the welcome mat for the likes of Dr. Steven Brigham, the multi-state abortionist charged by Maryland authorities with five counts of murder in the wake of an incident in which a teen suffered a ruptured uturus during the abortion of her 21-week-old fetus.
Miller contends that the bill would provide options for pregnant women diagnosed with cancer. Under current law, she claims, a pregnant cancer patient could face the choice of an illegal late-term abortion or risk exposing her fetus to potentially harmful chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
This is nonsense. No doctor in New York has been jailed for performing a legal or late-term abortion. Indeed, thousands of women a year come to the city seeking legal late-term abortions. (One local paper recently called the industry “something of a tourist attraction.”)
These women and girls come to New York mainly because they’re poor, their home states don’t provide adequate abortion services or permit late-term abortions, and because abortion is easily accessible here.
In New York, we have almost no restrictions or regulations on abortion, including no requirement for parental notification for minors. On the other hand, we do require standard abortion training for OB/GYN residents and abortion availability in medical clinics, public hospitals and doctors’ offices.And we have taxpayer coverage of it via Medicaid.
So why do Miller & Co. argue an opposite reality? In truth, it’s politics. With their allies nationwide outraged at the “war on women,” they want to raise their own rally flag.
Politicizing a matter of settled law just to score some sort of symbolic points is gratuitous at best.Especially when it’s more likely to undermine women’s health by opening the door wide to unethical practitioners.
Yes, there are issues for government here — but they’re not so simple as declaring new rights: That does nothing about the problems of economic decline outside the metro area, rural health-care access or sex trafficking, let alone the frighteningly high rate of abortions among black teens.
We need to focus on winning the women’s-health peace in New York, rather than scoring political points in a war that’s irrelevant to us.