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Hochul calls court decision a 'grave injustice,' says New Yorkers' right to abortion is protected

Gov. Kathy Hochul , center, speaks at a rally for abortion rights in May. To her left are Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger.
Ashley Hupfl
Gov. Kathy Hochul , center, speaks at a rally for abortion rights in May. To her left are Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that recent actions in the state will help keep abortion safe, legal and accessible, despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision's on Friday to officially reverse Roe v. Wade.

In anticipation of the expected ruling on the 1973 abortion rights decision, Hochul and the Legislature took preemptive steps in June to protect those rights.

In a statement issued moments after the ruling was announced, Hochul said, “This decision is a grave injustice.”

“History shows us that when abortion is banned, abortion becomes unsafe for women,” the governor said. “Low-income individuals and people of color will be harmed the most.”

The new laws in New York protect the right to an abortion for patients both from New York and from states where the procedure will be banned now that Roe has been overturned.

They include prohibitions on other states to extradite a patient or a health care practitioner to face abortion-related charges if the procedure was conducted legally in New York. The state also does not have to honor a subpoena request from another state if it relates to abortion services in New York.

And health care professionals can’t be charged with professional misconduct or be denied medical malpractice insurance for performing a legal abortion.

The state budget designated $25 million to support abortion care facilities in New York, and an additional $10 million to beef up security at the clinics.

A proposal for an amendment enshrining abortion rights into the state’s constitution has not yet been approved by the governor and the Legislature.

Three years ago, New York updated the 1970 laws that legalized abortion in the state and codified the abortion rights in Roe v. Wade into state law.

Hochul said the amendment got bogged down, though, in details over its exact wording.

"They are close,” Hochul said. “It is simply a matter of language changes.”

Hochul is not ruling out an agreement on an amendment before the end of the year, but she said it might not be fully resolved until next year, meaning the earliest date the measure could go before voters would be 2025.

State Attorney General Tish James said in a statement that, “Today’s ruling is a vicious, dangerous, and deliberate attack on our most basic freedom as humans. Every single person in this country should have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies.”

James promised that New York will always be a “safe haven” for anyone seeking an abortion, and she said she will “work tirelessly” to preserve that access.

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called the decision “abhorrent" and said it will have a “life-altering affect” on millions of women.

Anti-abortion groups praised the court’s decision.

Jason McGuire with New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical Christian lobbying group, said he and his group “sometimes doubted that we would live to see the day when our prayers would be answered.”

He said the court has ruled “correctly” that there is no constitutional right to abortion.

New York State’s Catholic Bishops, in a statement, said that they “give thanks to God for today’s decision.”

Copyright 2022 WXXI News. To see more, visit WXXI News.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.