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Lawsuits & Litigation

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Push Back Against New York’s Latest Abortion Law

— January 30, 2021

A federal lawsuit was recently filed, challenging the state’s Reproductive Health Act.

A group of pro-life activists recently marched in Syracuse on the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe V. Wade ruling that legalized abortion here in the United States. The activists were part of the Syracuse Right to Life Association. The organization’s president, Christina Fadden, said, “while former President Donald Trump was able to appoint conservative judges and Supreme Court justices, she’s less optimistic about the pro-life movement now that President Joe Biden has taken office.” For example, the White House recently issued a statement saying “Biden’s administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.”

Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

Fadden said:

“There’s a lot of thinking that President Biden – he’s Catholic – that there’s sort of sensibilities to abortion, but the statement that the Biden-Harris administration released about Roe v. Wade shows that there is really no common ground that they’re willing to seek over the abortion issue unfortunately.”

However, Fadden said her group and the pro-life movement as a whole are feeling encouraged about a new lawsuit targeting the Reproductive Health Act. The Reproductive Health Act is a law in New York that was passed “two years ago to codify the Roe v. Wade decision into state law.” Under the law, abortions are permitted “up to six months into the pregnancy and afterward if the woman’s health or life is in danger or if the fetus is in danger.”

Michele Sterlace, one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit claims the “law did more than codify Roe…it took it into unconstitutional territory.” She added:

“Roe v. Wade provided the right to abortion pre-viability. Absent a threat to a mother’s life or serious risk to her physical health, there’s nothing in U.S. abortion jurisprudence, including Roe, that confers upon any person a right to kill a viable unborn child…The focus of the lawsuit is the rights of viable unborn fetuses that are capable with or without medical intervention of living outside the womb.”

Even though the Roe v. Wade decision “affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion, later Supreme Court rulings have recognized that states can pass regulations restricting abortions in the interest of the woman’s health as well as that of the unborn child as long as it doesn’t create an undue burden, or substantial obstacle, to the procedure.” The recent lawsuit in New York argues the Reproductive Health Act “endangers mothers because abortion is no longer included as an offense in the state criminal code, a move state leaders said would de-criminalize access to these medical procedures and protect the doctors who perform them.” Sterlace also noted the law actually ends up leaving women vulnerable. She said:

“When you have the removal of fetal homicide for viable unborn children, a woman in later stages of pregnancy could be attacked…If that attack results in the loss of her wanted, viable child, there’s no recourse for her in terms of relief and we see that as demeaning to women in terms of their status as mothers.”

Proponents of the law disagree, like State Sen. Liz Krueger, who say there are criminal charges that can be brought to prosecute such a crime. 


Federal lawsuit challenges New York’s abortion law

Landmark Lawsuit Challenges New York’s Reproductive Health Act

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