A package of measures meant to bolster legal protections for abortion service providers and women from out of state seeking the procedure was signed into law on Monday by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Taken together, the measures are meant to strengthen abortion access in New York ahead of a potential Supreme Court ruling later this month that could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on the national level.
“My friends, the sky is literally on the verge of falling in the next week or two and that’s why we are here today,” Hochul said in reference to the impending ruling.
She added, “The right to control our own bodies is supposed to be settled by now, or so we thought.”
New York lawmakers and Hochul last month signaled they would move quickly on the issue after a draft of a ruling was leaked. If the ruling is finalized, abortion policy would return to 50 state governments, creating a patchwork of laws and rights on abortion.
The issue is expected to be a key concern for Democratic voters and elected officials heading into the election season. Hochul, who is running for a full term this year, has featured the abortion issue prominently in TV ads released by her campaign.
Multiple states are set to outlaw abortion through so-called trigger provisions if Roe is overturned. The measures signed on Monday by the governor are meant to provide abortion service providers with further legal protections as well as women who travel from other states where the procedure is outlawed seeking an abortion in New York.
The new laws will make it easier for people to file lawsuits if they believe their access to abortion services has been hindered. Abortion service providers will also have a stronger shield against medical malpractice claims.
The state's confidentiality program will be expanded to prevent the disclosure of abortion providers' employees and volunteers personal information.
Hochul last month announced millions of dollars in additional funding for abortion providers in New York to expand their facilities and strengthen security ahead of the potential ruling.
Republicans, as well as the New York Catholic Conference, have objected to the abortion provisions. And in recent days, anti-abortion advocates have also decried the arson last week at an anti-abortion pregnancy center in western New York.
"At a time when women and children need more support than ever, we are disappointed to see New York continue to focus on promoting abortion," said Kristen Curran, the government relations director for the Catholic Conference. This package of bills seeks to encourage abortion tourism, rather than helping women and children who may be in need. As a state that claims to value autonomy and choice, New York should stop presenting abortion as the best and only option for struggling women, and harassing any pro-life pregnancy center that may help women keep their babies. This abortion-or-nothing narrative only demeans women.”
Even as Democrats in the state Legislature have sought to strengthen abortion rights in a state with already expansive laws on the books, a proposed constitutional amendment meant to outline broad equality rights faltered in the final days of the legislative session.