Bill S.240Jordan Mabe | January 24, 2019
New York has just passed legislature updating their current laws on Abortion. Some argue that this is a monumental step in protecting reproductive health rights and others claim that it is a moral atrocity. There are many articles stating that this legislature allows for abortion up to birth and strips all rights away from infants. Other articles claim that this simply protects women to choose to have abortions when necessary. There is a lot of confusing “he said, she said” floating around. And no one is quite sure what Bill S.240 says.
Any Time, Any Reason
Bill S.240 may not be quite as extensive as everyone claims, but it does make some very important shifts. Firstly, it legalizes abortion up to 24 weeks for any reason. Stating:
A HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER LICENSED, CERTIFIED, OR AUTHORIZED UNDER TITLE EIGHT OF THE EDUCATION LAW, ACTING WITHIN HIS OR HER LAWFUL SCOPE OF PRACTICE, MAY PERFORM AN ABORTION WHEN, ACCORDING TO THE PRACTITIONER’S REASONABLE AND GOOD FAITH PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT BASED ON THE FACTS OF THE PATIENT’S CASE: THE PATIENT IS WITHIN TWENTY-FOUR WEEKS FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF PREGNANCY
A baby at 24 weeks can have functioning lungs, understand speech and sounds, and have a fully formed face, but let’s move on. It also allows abortion at any stage in the pregnancy if it could harm the mother’s life or health as determined by the acting physician. The vagueness of language here is intentional to allow for flexibility. The acting physician gets to decide what constitutes a health risk for the mother. It could allow for any issues such as mental or emotional health.
You are not required to be a licensed physician to perform an abortion.
Roe v. Wade required a licensed physician to perform abortion procedures, S.240 removes this requirement allowing for “physician assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives to perform abortions”. This should cause some concern because the actual wording in the bill is not specific as to the scope of who may or may not perform abortions. Activists are concerned that this allows for a multitude of unqualified individuals to perform abortions.
This bill takes abortion out of the criminal code. “If a fetus died as the result of an assault on a woman there would be no prosecution”. This essentially strips the legal rights of a fetus for any reason. Mothers who miscarry or otherwise lose a child due to assault or other criminal acts will no longer have the option of prosecuting the offender. A “person” is now defined as someone who has been born and is alive. This also protects doctors and physicians against any legal responsibility for the harm or loss of a fetus. If a doctor causes the death of a fetus that is less than 24 weeks old, it is not considered homicide.
Repeal of 4164
The last big thing that I believe this bill does is repeal section 4164 of the Public Health Code. This code states that in the event of an induced birth abortion, if the fetus is viable, it is immediately granted legal rights. Now when an induced birth abortion happens, regardless of viability, the fetus has no legal rights. Therefore if an induced birth abortion occurs and the fetus is living, breathing and medically determined to be viable, the fetus will still be denied rights.
Is this bill as far reaching as some believe? Maybe not. But It does make quite a lot of changes that have terrifying ramifications. Filled with incredibly vague language that requires interpretation, it sets a legal precedent that I don’t believe will end well. Only time will tell where this bill will take us, but I believe that wherever we end up, it won’t be good.