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We're 'hell bent' to help out-of-state women get abortion pills says Hochul, signing new law

Governor Kathy Hochul signed abortion rights legislation on June 23, 2023
Don Pollard, Office of Governor Hochul
Governor Kathy Hochul signed abortion rights legislation on June 23, 2023

On the one year anniversary of the US Supreme Court Dobbs decision which overturned the landmark abortion rights opinion Roe v Wade, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law that will protect New York providers who prescribe medication abortions to pregnant people in other states where the practice has been outlawed.

The measure fixes a loophole in a shield law approved last year. Health care providers who aid women from other states where abortion is outlawed to obtain the procedure are already protected from prosecution by those states, under New York law.

Since then, a federal judge in Texas has tried to invalidate the FDA’s 23 year old approval of medication abortions, using the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. The new law will protect providers in the state who prescribe medication abortions through telemedicine appointments, and then mail the drugs to the patients.

Hochul, speaking at a bill signing ceremony at the New York Academy of Medicine, says New York won’t collaborate with law enforcement from other states where abortion is illegal who might try to punish the providers.

“We're not going to cooperate without a state investigation. We're not going to extradite, we're not going to issue subpoenas,” Hochul said. “So you can continue hell bent down your path on continuing this radical behavior, but will be just as hell bent on stopping you.”

The abortion rights measure is just one of over one thousand bills approved by the Senate and Assembly in the 2023 legislative session.

Hochul has not been as quick to sign the other bills. And she has not committed to approving any other piece of legislation.

Many of the bills passed in the final weeks of the session were negotiated by the legislative leaders without the governor’s input. Hochul is putting the lawmakers on notice, saying that she will carefully examine all of that legislation in detail before she decides whether to sign, or veto. She says 500 measures were approved in the final days of the session, which ended on June 21st.

“I don't remember being asked about 500 bills in the last week,” Hochul said. “Now it is upon me to give more thoughtful analysis from my end to make sure that I'm making decisions that are the best fit in the entire state of New York not just individual areas”.

Hochul worked with Senate and Assembly leaders to craft one of the major policy changes. A measure known as Clean Slate would seal some criminal records after the person convicted has served their time, in order to help them obtain employment and housing. The governor has still not committed to signing the bill.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.