Facts About the Reproductive Health Act (RHA)

Updated: Mar 16

The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) passed the New York State Senate on January 22, 2019 marking a long-awaited decriminalization of reproductive health choices. Since its passage, the the far-right has been stoking fear and sensationalism and entirely misrepresenting the facts about the bill. Appeasing his supporters in the far-right, Donald Trump furthered this misrepresentation in his State of the Union Speech.

It is important that we understand the facts about this bill and have these facts at the ready.

RHA FACTS

  • Abortion is a very personal decision which should be left to a woman, her family, and her medical providers.

  • Abortion is a legal right under Roe v. Wade, and the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) brings NY law into line with the Roe standard.

  • The RHA removes abortion from penal law and places it into health law which is where it belongs.

  • RHA permits abortion after 24 weeks only when the health or life of the mother is at risk or the fetus is not viable, per the assessment of a qualified and licensed medical professional. These abortions are rare, accounting for less than 2% of all abortions.

Claim:

RHA would allow Non-Doctors to perform abortions

Facts:

  • RHA only allows licensed and highly trained medical professionals to provide abortions.

  • In today’s medical system, advanced practice clinicians such as certified midwives and nurse practitioners routinely provide specialized maternal health care, and they are professionally endorsed by the most well respected medical and health policy organizations in the US.

  • By allowing these qualified and trained advanced practice clinicians to provide abortion care, the RHA will improve access to safe and affordable health care so that women in rural areas can also access the health care they need.

Claim:

RHA allows “late term” abortion for any reason.

Fact:

  • RHA codifies the standard of Roe v Wade into NY law. After 24 weeks, the RHA allows for abortion only when the health or life of the woman is at risk or the fetus is not viable.

  • RHA does not create a broad exception.

  • If a medical professional determines a pregnant woman’s health or life is at risk, or if the fetus is not viable, the RHA allows a woman to make her own decision on whether to terminate or to continue her pregnancy.

Claim:

RHA allows abortion right up to the moment of birth.

Facts:

  • FALSE. RHA only allows for abortion after 24 weeks if the health of the mother is at risk or if the fetus is not viable.

  • If birth is possible without endangering the woman’s health and the fetus is viable, then abortion is not permitted.

Claim:

If a baby “survives” an abortion, the doctor can kill it.

Fact:

  • 100% false. This does not happen with modern medicine, but if it did, once a child is born they have the same legal protections as anyone else, and killing a newborn would be murder under NY legal statutes.

Claim:

RHA will allow someone to get away with attacking pregnant women.

Facts:

  • In the horrible circumstance where someone attacks a woman and she loses a pregnancy, there are already existing appropriate criminal charges.

  • Courts in New York have found that an attack on a pregnant woman that results in fetal loss constitutes first degree assault—which holds a harsher penalty than does a charge of abortion.

  • What anti-abortion opponents are suggesting is fetal personhood—a legal structure that reduces the rights and legal protections of the pregnant woman.

Fact Sheets

Credit goes to our friends in Indivisible NYCD-16 for these talking points.