Mr. Cuomo, seeking to deliver on a promise he made in his recent State of the State address, would rewrite a law that currently allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy only if the pregnant woman’s life is at risk. The law is not enforced, because it is superseded by federal court rulings that allow late-term abortions to protect a woman’s health, even if her life is not in jeopardy. But abortion rights advocates say the existence of the more restrictive state law has a chilling effect on some doctors and prompts some women to leave the state for late-term abortions.
Mr. Cuomo’s proposal, which has not yet been made public, would also clarify that licensed health care practitioners, and not only physicians, can perform abortions. It would remove abortion from the state’s penal law and regulate it through the state’s public health law.
Abortion rights advocates have welcomed Mr. Cuomo’s plan, which he outlined in general terms as part of a broader package of women’s rights initiatives in his State of the State address in January. But the Roman Catholic Church and anti-abortion groups are dismayed; opponents have labeled the legislation the Abortion Expansion Act.