On Thursday, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report that contains the stories of women who tried and failed to get abortions under New York's outdated laws. Both medical providers and patients spoke to the NYCLU about the necessity of updating New York abortion laws to be in line with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, especially in light of current government's attitude towards women's health. While the Roe v. Wade decision established a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, New York state law (created three years before the Supreme Court decision) criminalizes abortion after 24 weeks unless the woman is dying. Back in September, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a formal legal opinion that Roe v. Wade supersedes New York law, but women are still having difficulties if their provider doesn't want risk the consequences of violating state law while adhering to the federal law. This isn't good, because New York's abortion laws are pretty problematic. As the report states, there are plenty of health risks that arise after 24 weeks, such as cancer and aneurysms, meaning a woman may not know if an abortion is necessary until after New York's legal window.
“It was shocking and painful to learn I could not end my pregnancy in New York even after it was determined that my baby could not survive,” said Erika Christensen, one of the women in the NYCLU report. “I naively thought New York cared about my health and my rights. It was awful to have to get on a plane in that moment, fly across the country and spend thousands of dollars to get the care I should have had here.” To circumvent the law, women could spend up to $25,000 to travel across the country and legally obtain health services that could have and should have been provided to them at home. The NYCLU hopes this report will urge legislators to move abortion regulations from the criminal code into the Public Health Law, updating New York Public Health Law to reflect a woman's constitutional right to choose.