WBASNY Applauds Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature on the Passage of Landmark Legislation to Protect Reproductive Rights of Patients and Their Medical Providers

WBASNY Applauds Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature on the Passage of Landmark Legislation to Protect Reproductive Rights of Patients and Their Medical Providers

(New York, NY, Wednesday, June 22, 2022) – The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) applauds and supports the legislation passed by both the New York State Senate and Assembly which was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on June 13, 2022, relating to reproductive rights in New York State.  WBASNY has long supported every woman’s fundamental right to make her own reproductive health care decisions.  WBASNY has expressed its grave concern that the United States Supreme Court appears likely to overturn the right to privacy and reproductive choice that was first guaranteed in Roe v. Wade, and affirmed through Court decisions in the many decades that followed.

In response to the likely action by the United States Supreme Court, and in consideration of the actions taken by more than twenty-six (26) States around the country to limit or prohibit access to reproductive health care, New York State enacted six (6) laws, which together with the Reproductive Health Care Act which was passed in 2019, will further protect patients, medical providers, and the right to reproductive health care in New York.

The first law protects doctors from professional misconduct charges for providing reproductive health services to patients who live outside the State of New York, in states where abortion services are not legal, via telemedicine.

The second law protects the rights of persons seeking abortion care or gender affirming care in New York State.  This law creates a civil cause of action for unlawful interference with the protected rights to reproductive health care.

The third law forbids New York State Courts from cooperating with out of state legal cases involving abortion except in very limited circumstances, i.e. New York Courts will not honor a subpoena request if the out of state case relates to abortion services legally performed in New York State unless the subpoena is from the patient (the Court will not honor the bounty hunter subpoenas.)  In addition, New York will not extradite a defendant to another state to face criminal charges related to obtaining an abortion unless the governor of that State alleges in writing that the defendant was present in that State (not New York) at the time of the abortion service and later fled to New York.

The fourth law prohibits medical malpractice insurers from taking adverse action against a health care provider in New York State for performing legal reproductive health care services, protecting providers from civil actions.

The fifth law will expand the eligibility of the Address Confidentiality Program to include reproductive health care providers, employees, volunteers at clinics, patients, or their immediate families, to help protect them from threats of harm.  The New York State Address Confidentiality Program was originally established to allow victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual offense, and human trafficking to shield their addresses from their abusers. The person who wishes to keep their address confidential must register with the Department of State. Once registered, participants are assigned a substitute address that they may use instead of their actual address.  All state and local agencies are required to accept the substitute address.

The final law directs the Commissioner of Health to assemble a task force to study and issue a report on the unmet health and resource needs facing pregnant women and girls in New York State, the impact of “limited services pregnancy centers” (also known as “crisis pregnancy centers”), and the access to, and quality of, care pregnant women and girls receive.

With these laws, the State of New York asserts itself as the State most protective of the right of reproductive choice in the United States.  Once again, New York is the beacon of light in the darkness of reproductive health care choice that is already spreading across the country.   Facing the elimination of reproductive choice in a number of states, Governor Kathy Hochul pledged on June 13th: “Not here.  Not now.   Not ever.”    These new laws assure that New York not only guarantees the rights of its own citizens but also offers to assist those from other states to obtain safe, legal, accessible, and affordable reproductive medical care.

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The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) is the professional membership organization of choice for more than 3,500 attorneys throughout New York State, and the largest statewide women’s bar association in the country.  For four decades, WBASNY has been a singularly important resource for women lawyers, with professional networking, continuing legal education programming, leadership training, and advocacy for the rights of women, children, and families.  Through involvement with WBASNY’s 20 regional chapters and its 40-plus substantive law committees, WBASNY’s members collaborate with one another on a variety of issues and perform public and community service, in furtherance of its mission to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and women in the legal profession; to promote the fair and equal administration of justice; and to act as a unified voice for its members with respect to issues of statewide, national and international significance to women generally and women attorneys in particular. WBASNY holds United Nations NGO status with the U.N.’s Department of Public Information, and Special Consultative status in association with the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). WBASNY is also a founding member of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations.