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Legislation recently introduced in the State Assembly seeks to amend the State Constitution to preserve the right to an abortion.

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Tarrytown, wants the state Constitution to include a new section that states an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed.

“Amending the State Constitution to provide for an individual’s right to personal reproductive liberty will help ensure reproductive freedoms for our citizens and further support the fundamental importance of reproductive liberty in our state,” Abinanti wrote in his legislative justification.

In 2019, the state enacted the Reproductive Health Act, which codified abortion rights established in Roe v. Wade. The legislation made abortion a “Fundamental right” under the state Constitution. The law also added a “Health” exception to New York law making abortions legal in the final three months of a pregnancy to protect a patient “Life or health.” Previously the law had allowed late-term abortions only to protect the patient “Life.” The act also legalized abortion after 24 weeks in the absence of fetal viability.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in December in Mississippi’s bid to have the landmark Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion overturned. Mississippi is asking the high court to uphold its ban on most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy approved in 2018 but blocked after a federal court challenge.

The state has told the court it should overrule Roe and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that prevent states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

A decision in the Mississippi case has not been announced.

Last year, the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law to take effect that bans abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, around 6 weeks of pregnancy, before some women even know they are pregnant. The law is unusual in that it allows private citizens to sue people who may have facilitated a prohibited abortion. The court, split 5-4, did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, but rather declined to block enforcement while a challenge to the law plays out in the courts.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, asked whether the court would be better off withdrawing completely from the abortion issue and letting states decide.

“Why should this court be the arbiter rather than Congress, the state legislatures, the state supreme courts, the people being able to resolve this?” Kavanaugh asked. “And there will be different answers in Mississippi and New York, different answers in Alabama than California.”

It is that backdrop that is prompting Abinanti to propose his constitutional amendment. Amending the state Constitution is a lengthy process. A bill must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and then be approved by voters statewide on a ballot referendum vote.

“New York has long recognized that reproductive health care, including abortion, is essential care and that decisions related to reproductive health care and abortion are best left to a woman and her doctor,” Abinanti wrote in his legislative memorandum. “However, the lack of a definitive enumeration of reproductive liberty in New York’s Constitution, along with the clear threat to.Roe v. Wade being weakened or overturned by a.conservative U.S. Supreme Court, and the cloud of multi-state efforts to erode reproductive autonomy, highlights the need for greater protection of these rights. ”

– The Associated Press contributed to this report

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