To the editor:
(re: “It’s not a choice,” Aug. 1)
Over the past few weeks, The Riverdale Press has run several letters concerning the revisions to New York State’s abortion laws made by this year’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act.
Because it is important for the public to have accurate information about this important legislation, we are writing to correct some myths and misunderstandings that have arisen.
The purpose of the Reproductive Health Act is to codify Roe v. Wade protections into New York state law.
This was necessary because New York’s abortion laws were passed before Roe v. Wade, and never updated.
Under the revised law, abortion care may be provided only by highly qualified advanced practice clinicians, as defined by and licensed by the state. This includes physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The law did not change the scope of practice of these practitioners under state law.
Following Roe v. Wade, the revised law allows abortions past 24 weeks of pregnancy if a woman’s health or life is at risk, or if the fetus is not viable. Women’s health risks include placental absorption, bleeding, placenta previa, pre-eclampsia, and cardiac or renal conditions. Serious fetal conditions include anencephaly, absence of parts of the brain and skull, and limb-body wall complex — where internal organs grow exterior to the body — all of which are incompatible with life.
The revised law does not permit abortions to be “performed up to the minute of birth” as some letter writers have asserted. This is a false representation of medical standards of practice, as well as of the ethical guidelines that medical practitioners must follow.
New York state civil rights laws and several federal laws allow for religious refusals to provide abortion care. The revised state law does not change or interfere with these protections.
The decision to have an abortion — whether before or after 24 weeks — is to be made by the pregnant woman and her doctor, not by the government. Medical decisions are often complex, and for procedures of any kind, they must involve a thoughtful process that takes into account the entire medical picture and the unique features of each case.
The revisions enacted through the Reproductive Health Act assure safe and professional abortion care for those who need it.
Peter Beitchman, Judy Fletcher, Kami Seligman
The authors are health care committee co-chairs of NYCD16-Indivisible.