New York News

New York Lawmakers Aim to Shield Abortion Doctors From Out-of-State Prosecutions

The New York Capitol in Albany is seen Aug. 3, 2021. State lawmakers approved legislation June 20, 2023, granting legal protection to New York doctors who prescribe and send abortion pills to patients in states that have restricted abortion. (OSV News photo)

By Kate Scanlon

NEW YORK (OSV) — Lawmakers in New York approved legislation June 20 granting legal protection to in-state doctors who prescribe and send abortion pills to patients in states that have restricted abortion.

New York Assembly Bill 1709 would shield doctors in New York from potential prosecution if they dispense abortion pills in states that have restricted them. Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to sign the bill.

“Despite allowing abortion until the moment of birth, the state has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and passed dubious legislation in an effort to present abortion as the best and only choice for mothers in crisis,” said Kristen Curran, director of government relations for the New York State Catholic Conference.

According to the legislation, New York state courts and officials will not cooperate with their counterparts in states that have restricted abortion, if another state attempts to prosecute a New York health care provider, so long as that provider is in compliance with New York law.

The state Assembly passed the bill June 20 in a 99-45 vote, after the state Senate approved it in a 39-22 vote last month.

Supporters of the legislation cast it as a response to abortion restrictions in other states after the June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisprudence since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement, “As anti-choice extremists continue to roll back reproductive care across the country, New York remains a sanctuary state for access.

“It is our moral obligation to help women across the country with their bodily autonomy by protecting New York doctors from litigation efforts from anti-choice extremists,” Heastie said. “Telehealth is the future of health care, and this bill is simply the next step in making sure our doctors are protected.”

But Curran said that since the reversal of Roe v. Wade, “New York has sought to become the abortion capital of the United States.”

She called the legislation “nothing more than political pandering — eroding standards through which doctors can be held accountable in order to appear progressive on the issue of abortion.

“New York should respect the laws of other states, just as other states should respect New York’s,” Curran said. “We continue to stand in solidarity with moms and babies by fighting for true support, in the form of improved maternity care, support for infants, and funding for safety net programs that might make women feel positioned to carry their pregnancies to term.”