New York 2014 Report Card

Ranking: 47

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New York lags far behind the majority of other states in protecting the health and safety of women considering abortion. It does not have either an informed consent or parental involvement law, and it does not provide effective limits on public funding for abortion. However, in 2013, with the assistance of AUL Action, New York rejected Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Woman’s Equality Act” which would have elevated abortion to a fundamental legal right in the state, eliminating all existing protections for women considering abortion, rescinding protections for unborn victims of violence, and compromising the conscience rights of healthcare providers.

Abortion:

  • In Hope v. Perales, the due process provision of the New York Constitution was interpreted as protecting a woman’s right to abortion.
  • New York does not have an informed consent law for abortion and does not protect the right of parents to be involved in the abortion decisions of their minor daughters.
  • New York taxpayers are required by statute to fund “medically necessary” abortions for women receiving public assistance.
  • Under current legal precedent, New York’s requirement that abortions after the first trimester be performed in hospitals is unenforceable.
  • The state limits the performance of abortions to licensed physicians.
  • The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions.
  • New York provides funding to pregnancy care centers and other abortion alternatives.
  • New York maintains the crime of “aggravated interference with health care services” in the first and second degrees.  The statute provides, in pertinent part, that “a person is guilty of the crime of aggravated interference with health care services… when he or she… causes physical injury to such other person who was obtaining or providing, or was assisting another person to obtain or provide reproductive health services.”

Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:

  • Under New York law, the killing of an unborn child after the 24th week of pregnancy is defined as a homicide.
  • The state allows a wrongful death (civil) action only when an unborn child is born alive following a negligent or criminal act and dies thereafter.
  • New York law states that the “opportunity to obtain medical treatment of an infant prematurely born alive in the course of an abortion shall be the same as the rights of an infant born spontaneously.”  Thus, the state has created a specific affirmative duty of physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants born alive at any stage of development.
  • New York has a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
  • The state funds drug treatment programs for pregnant women and newborns.

Bioethics Laws:

  • New York does not prohibit human cloning, destructive embryo research, or fetal experimentation.
  • New York has a state board that disburses state monies for destructive embryo research.  The monies may not fund cloning-to-produce-children.
  • New York is the first state to publicly fund the dangerous procedure of human egg harvesting.
  • The state does not regulate assisted reproductive technologies.

End of Life Laws:

  • New York expressly prohibits assisted suicide which is defined as a form of manslaughter. This prohibition has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Healthcare Rights of Conscience Laws:

Participation in Abortion and Contraception:

  • A person who objects in writing and on the basis of religious beliefs or conscience is not required to perform or assist in an abortion.
  • Staff members of the State Department of Social Services may refuse to provide family planning services if in conflict with their cultural values, conscience, or religious convictions.
  • Health plans that provide prescription coverage must provide coverage for contraception. The provision includes a conscience exemption so narrow it excludes the ability of most employers and insurers with moral or religious objections from exercising it.

Participation in Research Harmful to Human Life:

  • New York currently provides no protection for the rights of healthcare providers who conscientiously object to participation in human cloning, destructive embryo research, and other forms of medical research, which violate a provider’s moral or religious belief.

What Happened in 2013:

  • New York rejected the “Women’s Equality Act” which would have elevated abortion to a fundamental legal right in the state, eliminated all existing legal protections for women considering abortion, rescinded protections for unborn victims of violence, and compromised the conscience rights of healthcare providers.
  • New York considered legislation prohibiting sex-selection abortions, as well as measures involving abortion clinic regulations, abortion reporting, informed consent, ultrasounds, parental involvement, and insurance coverage of abortion.
  • Conversely, the state considered legislation that would have unnecessarily regulated or interfered with the work of pregnancy resource centers.
  • New York appropriated funds to the “Empire State Stem Cell Trust Fund” and considered legislation prohibiting human cloning for all purposes, funding for cloning-to-produce-children, and providing valuable consideration for the “donation” of human gametes.
  • New York considered legislation to prohibit hospitals, nursing homes, residential healthcare facilities, or facilities providing health-related services, from withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining healthcare treatment from a patient or from discharging a patient from a facility over the objection of the patient, the patient’s designated healthcare agent, or the patient’s surrogate healthcare decision-maker. It also considered a measure clarifying that providing nutrition or hydration orally, without reliance on medical treatment, is not healthcare.

Recommendations for New York

Women’s Protection Project Priorities:

  • Women’s Health Defense Act (5-month abortion limitation)
  • Women’s Right to Know Act with reflection period
  • Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act
  • Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act
  • Parental Notification for Abortion Act
  • Child Protection Act

Additional Priorities:

Abortion:
  • State Constitutional Amendment (providing that there is no state constitutional right to abortion)
  • Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act
  • Defunding the Abortion Industry and Advancing Women’s Health Act
  • Women’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act
  • Coercive Abuse Against Mothers Prevention Act
  • Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act
  • Joint Resolution Commending Pregnancy Resource Centers
Legal Recognition and Protection for the Unborn
  • Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act
  • Unborn Wrongful Death Act
  • Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act
Bioethics:
  • Human Cloning Prohibition Act
  • Destructive Embryo Research Act
  • Prohibition on Public Funding of Human Cloning and Destructive Embryo Research Act

Healthcare Freedom of Conscience:

  • Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act