(New York, NY, Thursday, May 12, 2022) – The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) staunchly supports every woman’s fundamental right to choose and make her own reproductive health decisions. WBASNY expresses disbelief and grave concern over the United States Supreme Court’s likely vote to strike down the groundbreaking decision in Roe v. Wade as set forth in the sweeping and leaked draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. WBASNY joined the Dobbs case as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in support of respondent Jackson Women’s Health Organization. WBASNY is steadfastly committed to fighting for and preserving women’s rights, including the essential right of women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.
Roe v. Wade and its progeny, including Casey v. Planned Parenthood have guaranteed women the fundamental constitutional right to an abortion in this country for almost fifty years. The United States Supreme Court’s draft majority decision in Dobbs will deprive women of their fundamental constitutional right to make their own reproductive health care choices in much of the Country and will destroy nearly fifty years of constitutional jurisprudence. This is a dangerous attack on women, and in particular, poor and disadvantaged women. Women must have the right to make appropriate medical decisions for themselves about their bodies.
New York State enacted the Reproductive Health Care Act in 2019, which codified the protections of Roe v. Wade into New York State law and ensured access to safe, legal abortion in New York State, irrespective of changes to Federal law. Nonetheless, our entire country should be concerned about the Dobbs draft decision because any decision issued by the Supreme Court reversing Roe v. Wade will result in women losing a Federal constitutional right to make their own health care decisions. This departure may lead to unsafe abortions, an inability to obtain necessary medical care, self-harm, physical and mental health injuries, and maternal deaths. Additionally, discussions are currently taking place in Congress to abolish the right of women to obtain an abortion on a Federal level, which would make New York’s law codifying Roe v. Wade futile, and mean that only the wealthiest women could obtain an abortion by going to another country.
Now, more than ever, the New York State’s Constitution must include an Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”). The current patchwork of laws that protect women in New York State fails to prohibit the denial of equal rights on the basis of sex. The decision in Roe v. Wade made abortions legal in the United States of America. Furthermore, enacting a Federal ERA would likely make restrictions on abortions unconstitutional, thus making a woman’s right to choose unassailable. WBASNY continues to ardently support the ERA, both at the State and Federal levels. The passage of the ERA has been and continues to be a legislative priority for WBASNY. While WBASNY continues to celebrate the New York State legislature for providing women and families in New York State with the essential right to make their own reproductive health care decisions, WBASNY also recognizes that, nationwide, women are still second-class citizens under the law. WBASNY persists as a strong supporter of a woman’s fundamental right to make her own reproductive health decisions.
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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 4,000 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.