Unsafe abortion is the leading cause of maternal death in the world, according to the World Health Organization. After the fall of Roe v. Wade, the subject of abortion has become an even more debated topic across the country, including in New York.

New York has some of the strongest abortion protections in the country. Here is what is currently protected and how it impacts New York's maternal mortality rate.

New York's Abortion Protections

New York is 1 of 21 states in the United States that have laws protecting the right to an abortion. New York is also 1 of the 11 states that have added protections to the right to an abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Abortion has been legal in New York since 1970 according to the New York State Attorney General. Since then, there have been a few new measures that have strengthened the right to abortion in New York.

The first was in 2019 when the Reproductive Health Act was passed. This essentially safeguarded the right to an abortion in New York State despite any present or future federal decision to restrict access.

In 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed Senate Bill S1066B which provided legal protections for healthcare providers, physicians, and anyone involved in aiding in an abortion. In the wake of increasing trigger bans and abortion criminalization laws across the country, this newest bill opened the door for people from other states to come to New York to get safe abortions.

Who is Allowed to Get an Abortion in New York?

Any pregnant person is legally protected to receive an abortion in New York State through week 24 of a pregnancy.

According to the NYS Attorney General's Office, after the 24th week of a pregnancy, a medical professional must deem the pregnancy unsafe for the fetus or person carrying the pregnancy in order to receive an abortion. An "unsafe" pregnancy is defined as one that poses a risk to the carrier's life, physical health, or mental health.

Minors are a part of New York State's abortion protection laws. Parental guardian permission is not required for a minor to receive reproductive healthcare including access to birth control and abortions.

Abortion and Maternal Mortality Rates

According to the World Health Organization, the leading method to prevent maternal mortality in the world is to "prevent unintended pregnancies."

This includes:

Access to contraception, safe abortion services to the full extent of the law, and quality post-abortion care.

A study done by Tulane University based on data between 2015-2018 found that states with more abortion restrictions also had the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

States currently with the highest abortion protections include New York, Washington, Connecticut, and California.

The maternal mortality rates between 2018 and 2022 in these states are as follows according to the CDC:

  • New York: 22
  • Washington: 18
  • Connecticut: 15
  • California: 10

States such as Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee where abortion is outlawed with criminal charges have the following maternal mortality rates between 2018 - 2022 according to the CDC:

  • Alabama: 38
  • Arkansas: 38
  • Mississippi: 39
  • Tennessee: 41

Is New York Adding More Protections to the Right to an Abortion?

Recently, officials in New York proposed an amendment to the New York State Constitution that would add protections to abortion. The amendment aimed to restrict discrimination based on "pregnancy outcomes," according to AP News.

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This latest amendment would have been on the ballot this November in New York. The amendment was struck down this May by State Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Doyle on the grounds that, "lawmakers incorrectly approved the language [of the amendment] before getting a written opinion from the attorney general." according to AP News.

Since the overturn, Attorney General Letitia James has said she plans to appeal the ruling according to Forbes.

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