NY legislature set to codify abortion rights in constitution

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The New York legislature has passed an amendment to the state constitution that would enshrine abortion rights and other protections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the federal right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

“As other states take extreme measures to stymie progress and roll back reproductive rights, New York will always lead the way to combat discrimination in all forms and protect abortion access,” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a statement on the passage.

It’s the second time the amendment has cleared the state Assembly and state Senate, and the matter now heads to voters in the state, to be on the ballot in 2024.

“Today, we passed the Equality Amendment for the second time, which, if approved by the people, would enshrine in our constitution expanded protections for the civil rights of New Yorkers and ensure that no one is denied the opportunity to fully participate in society on the basis of their identity,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) said in remarks.

“Across this country, at all levels of government, we have seen a worrying trend in rolling back and limiting the rights of Americans. We will not allow that to stand in New York. I look forward to voting for the Equality Amendment once again when it goes before the voters in 2024,” Heastie added.

The Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe and handed the regulation of abortion over to the states, prompting some legislatures to tighten abortion restrictions and spurring others to shore up protections.

“Women’s rights and LGBTQI+ rights are under attack across the country, that is why it is essential that New York continues to lead the way in protecting reproductive health access and championing equality rights,” said state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D).

The amendment would add to the state constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and protect against discrimination based on a slate of factors, including national origin, sexual orientation — and reproductive health care and pregnancy outcomes.

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