New York's Radical Abortion Law Repeals Protections for Wanted Babies, Too
On Tuesday night, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) signed a radical law defending Roe v. Wade and making abortion a "fundamental right." The law allows abortion throughout pregnancy in the name of protecting a woman's health, and repeals protections for babies who survive abortion. But the law also removes New York's protections for wanted babies and their mothers, which were part of the state's criminal code on fetal homicide.
This means that if someone beats a pregnant mother and causes her to lose her unborn baby, the law no longer considers that act a homicide. When New York legalized abortion in 1970, the law still defined the death of an unborn baby after 24 weeks gestational age as homicide — fetal homicide.
The Reproductive Health Act (S.B.240) passed and signed on Tuesday — the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — explicitly amends the penal code to remove protections for wanted babies who die in domestic violence or other kinds of assault.
The law includes the New York criminal code's definition of homicide, explicitly striking any language about unborn babies: "Homicide means conduct which causes the death of a person [
or an unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than twen ty-four weeks] under circumstances constituting murder, manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree, or criminally negligent homicide[ , abortion in the first degree or self-abortion in the first degree]."
The law includes an explicit definition of the term "person:" "when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who has been born and is alive."
If someone abuses a pregnant woman and kills her 25-week-old unborn baby, New York law no longer imposes a penalty.
"By completely gutting abortion from New York's criminal law, the RHA removes the state's only prosecutorial tool for holding violent abusers accountable for the death of wanted unborn children," Michele Sterlace-Accorsi, executive director of Feminists Choosing Life of New York, wrote in an op-ed for the Albany Times-Union. "Studies show that domestic violence escalates during pregnancy."
"If reproductive freedom and equality lie at the heart of the RHA, as pro-choice feminists claim, how could the bill's drafters have overlooked this injustice?" Sterlace-Accosi asked. "How could any feminist strip away the right of a woman to prosecute a violent partner for killing her wanted fetus? Depriving women of the opportunity to punish violent partners for killing their wanted unborn children is anti-woman."
Yet this horrific removal of protections for a wanted unborn baby and her bereaved mother is in keeping with the philosophy of the law, which proclaims abortion to be a fundamental right.