The Democratic-majority New York State Assembly on Tuesday announced the passage of legislation aimed at providing legal protection for doctors who prescribe and ship abortion pills to states that ban abortion. Although the bill has not yet been signed into law by state Gov. Kathy Hochul, she has come out in favor of this legal protection for doctors.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie explained in a statement that they have a moral obligation to help women across the country maintain freedom over their own bodies by protecting New York physicians from possible legal action by anti-abortion extremists. He added that telemedicine is the future of medical care and that this bill is the next step in ensuring that physicians are protected.
The proposed legislation would allow legal protection for New York physicians who, while practicing within the state, allow women to access abortions through telemedicine consultations or by sending abortion pills. This practice could face legal consequences in states where abortion restrictions or bans exist.
One year after the Supreme Court struck down the federal right to abortion and left legislation up to the individual states, the country is divided between the twenty states that have imposed abortion bans or restrictions (primarily in the South and Midwest) and the states on the East and West coasts that have implemented new legal protections.
This law could benefit physicians such as Linda Prine of New York, who created a hotline that women from all over the country can call and who was recently interviewed by AFP at her home. According to Prine, the Supreme Court decision led to a sharp increase in the number of calls to her hotline. Other states, such as Washington, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Vermont, have also passed laws to protect their physicians.
However, the legislation in New York state could have a more significant impact, as doctors like Prine have already announced their intention to send abortion pills to patients.