Reproductive Health Act

The Reproductive Health Act is a New York statute enacted on January 22, 2019 that expanded abortion rights and eliminated several restrictions on abortion in the state.[1] The law received national media attention.[2]

Reproductive Health Act
Seal of New York.svg
New York State Legislature
Full nameReproductive Health Act
StatusIn force
IntroducedJanuary 9, 2019
Assembly votedJanuary 22, 2019
Senate votedJanuary 22, 2019
Signed into lawJanuary 22, 2019
Sponsor(s)Deborah J. Glick (Assembly),
Liz Krueger (Senate)
GovernorAndrew Cuomo


Prior to the passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), New York law banned third-trimester abortions except when necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.[3][4] Before the RHA was passed, New York law required that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians.[1]

The Reproductive Health Act and similar bills were proposed in the New York State Legislature beginning in 2007,[5][6][7] but such legislation was blocked by Senate Republicans for years.[8] After Senate Democrats gained a majority in the State Senate in the 2018 elections,[9] they vowed to make the passage of the Reproductive Health Act a priority.[10]


The Reproductive Health Act passed the New York State Senate by a vote of 38-24 on January 22, 2019,[11][12] the 46th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling. The state Assembly passed the Reproductive Health Act, 92-47, on the same day;[13][14] it was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo that evening.[15] Cuomo ordered One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit in pink to celebrate the bill's passage.[16][17] The celebratory lighting of One World Trade Center was criticized by Vice President Mike Pence,[2] by Timothy Cardinal Dolan,[18] and by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse;[19] it was decried by one New York Daily News columnist as an act of trolling and politicizing the memorial to the victims of the September 11 attacks to celebrate the passage of a divisive law.[20]

Reproductive Health Act – Vote in the Assembly (January 22, 2019)[21]
Party Votes for Votes against Not voting/Not present
Democratic (105) 94
Republican (43) 42
Independence (1)
Total (150) 95 49 6
Reproductive Health Act – Vote in the Senate (January 22, 2019)[22]
Party Votes for Votes against Not voting/Not present
Democratic (40) 38
Republican (23) 22
Total (150) 38 24 1


The RHA legalized abortion at any time "when necessary to protect a woman's life or health"[15][23] or in the absence of fetal viability.[2] The act allows licensed health care practitioners other than physicians to perform abortions if doing so falls within their lawful scope of practice.[1][2] According to CBS New York, the act also repealed "criminal charges for harming children in the womb",[24] but not for harming pregnant women.[25][26]

Supporters argued the bill was needed to codify abortion rights in the state in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned and the issue of abortion legality returns to the states.[15] Supporters also said the bill was needed to take abortion out of the state criminal code and place it in public health law.[27]

The RHA was criticized because it removed abortion from the criminal code, with potential consequences for crimes against pregnant women. State Representative Nicole Malliotakis said removing abortion from the criminal code means that if a fetus dies as the result of an assault on a woman, there would be no prosecution.[28] Two legislators who sponsored the act wrote an op-ed arguing that violence resulting in a loss of pregnancy could still be prosecuted as first-degree assault.[29] In February 2019, the Queens district attorney's office dropped a charge of second-degree murder against a man who murdered his pregnant girlfriend, saying their ability to press the charge was repealed by the Reproductive Health Act. However, the man was still charged with murder, a superseding offense, and as such the dropped charge would not affect sentencing.[30]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Bump, Bethany (22 January 2019). "Cuomo signs Reproductive Health Act after Legislature votes". Times Union.
  2. ^ a b c d "Abortion law in New York: What the Reproductive Health Act does and doesn't do". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
  3. ^ "A New York Law Has Catapulted Later Abortion Back Into the Political Spotlight". Time.
  4. ^ Tolentino, Jia (19 January 2019). "How Abortion Law in New York Will Change, and How It Won't" – via
  5. ^ Robbins, Christopher. "Cuomo Signs Historic Abortion Law, Celebrates By Turning One WTC Pink". Gothamist.
  6. ^ "What to know about NY's expanded abortion law". Newsday.
  7. ^ "New York's Legislation Against Life". Catholic New York.
  8. ^ Precious, Tom (22 January 2019). "Long-stalled abortion bill passes New York Legislature".
  9. ^ Campanile, Carl (7 November 2018). "Democrats take control of NY state Senate for first time in a decade".
  10. ^ DeWitt, Karen. "NY senators elect first African-American woman as majority leader".
  11. ^ "New York Dems Flex Muscles, Pass Reproductive Health Act". 22 January 2019.
  12. ^ "NY State Senate Bill S240". NY State Senate. 2 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Abortion laws in New York: How they changed with the Reproductive Health Act". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
  14. ^ "NY State Assembly Bill A21". NY State Senate. 2 January 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Long-stalled abortion bill passes New York Legislature (The Buffalo News)
  16. ^ "Governor Cuomo Directs One World Trade Center and Other Landmarks to be Lit in Pink to Celebrate Signing of the Reproductive Health Act". Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. 22 January 2019.
  17. ^ New York 'celebrates' legalizing abortion until birth as Catholic bishops question Cuomo's faith (Fox News)
  18. ^ Parke, Caleb (23 January 2019). "New York 'celebrates' legalizing abortion until birth as Catholic bishops question Cuomo's faith". Fox News.
  19. ^ Garcia, Victor (27 February 2019). "Ben Sasse: Cuomo 'perverted' color pink by linking it to abortion, not breast cancer". Fox News.
  20. ^ Rubbing their noses in it: Gov. Cuomo's lighting of the World Trade Center in pink to celebrate passage of the Reproductive Health Act was rude to abortion opponents (New York Daily News)
  21. ^ "New York State Assembly | Bill Search and Legislative Information". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  22. ^ "Albany Approves Abortion Rights Bill | WNYC | New York Public Radio, Podcasts, Live Streaming Radio, News". WNYC. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  23. ^ Did New York Pass a Bill Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth? (
  24. ^ New York Dems Flex Muscles, Pass Reproductive Health Act (CBS New York)
  25. ^ FAQs about the Reproductive Health Act (Sen. Liz Krueger)
  26. ^ "NY State Senate Bill S240". NY State Senate. 2019-01-02. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  27. ^ How New York's abortion law has changed (WQAD)
  28. ^ New York puts in measures to protect access to abortion even if Roe v. Wade is overturned (CNN)
  29. ^ Commentary: Claims that Reproductive Act go beyond Roe are wrong (Times-Union)
  30. ^ Kasprak, Alex (February 15, 2019). "Fact Check: Did a Man Escape a Murder Charge Because of Because of New York's Reproductive Health Act?". Snopes. Retrieved April 3, 2019.