New York News

NY Judge Blocks Abortion Referendum from November Ballot

A gavel and block are seen in this illustration photo. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — A New York judge May 7 blocked an abortion amendment from appearing on the November election ballot saying state lawmakers failed to follow correct procedures required for constitutional amendments.

State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle said lawmakers approved the amendment before obtaining the necessary written approval on its language from the New York Attorney General Letitia James.

James said in a statement that her office would appeal the decision.

“The Equal Rights Amendment was advanced to protect New Yorkers’ fundamental rights, including reproductive freedom and access to abortion care. This is a disappointing court decision, but we will appeal because New Yorkers deserve to be protected by their Constitution, especially as our basic freedoms and rights are under attack,” she said.

The amendment wouldn’t specifically protect legalized abortions but it would prevent someone from being discriminated against for having had an abortion, which supporters said would essentially protect reproductive rights. The amendment also aimed to protect a person’s right to seek gender-affirming care.

The “Equal Protection of Law Amendment” was meant to bar discrimination based on “pregnancy outcomes” or “gender expression.” Democratic lawmakers passed the amendment last year and planned to put it to voters in the 2024 election for final approval.

The New York Constitution currently bans discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion. The proposed amendment aimed to add ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes and reproductive health care and autonomy to the list.

“While we strongly agree with the goal of protecting all human beings from unjust discrimination, we oppose this legislation as it seeks to enshrine the right to abortion in the New York State Constitution,” the New York Catholic Conference said earlier this year.

The conference, which is the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, said that “Including ‘reproductive healthcare and autonomy’ in the litany of protected classes in Section 11 of the New York State Constitution is another unnecessary step in the state’s quest to be the abortion capital of the country.”

It also said the amendment was “gratuitous as abortion is already legal in New York with virtually no restrictions, and has, in fact, been declared a ‘fundamental right’ by the Reproductive Health Act of 2019.”

The Catholic conference added that the amendment only solidified “the message that New York has been sending women for some time now (that) abortion is positive, empowering, and the key to success,” which it said “couldn’t be further from the truth.”