The Battle to Pass RHA Bill in NY

The controversy surrounding abortion or pro-choice and pro-life supporters has accelerated as a topic of discussion in our country, but on a state level New York could soon implement a new law contributing to the women’s reproductive rights movement.

The scene in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office building was a windy one propelled by voices of several protestors.

“Hey, hey! Governor Cuomo, pass the RHA Bill today,” chanted the passionate clan.

The Reproductive Health Act bill was sponsored by Democratic New York State Senators Liz Kruegar and Andrea Stewart-Cousins in late January and is currently in the senate committee. The bill’s title reads, “An act to amend the public health law, in relation to enacting the reproductive health act and revising existing provisions of law regarding abortion; to amend the penal law, the criminal procedure law, the county law and the judiciary law, in relation to abortion; to repeal certain provisions of the public health law relating to abortion; to repeal certain provisions of the education law relating to the sale of contraceptives; and to repeal certain provisions of the penal law relating to abortion.”

A recent report examined the Trump Administration’s opportunity to strike in terms of reforming federal regulations now that the GOP has control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and at least one Supreme Court seat. The Republican Party strongly oppose abortion, complying with the Declaration of Independence on all Americans having the right to live. In January President Trump reinstated a regulation that bans US-funded groups from discussing abortion, which was created under President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

With the threat of the Trump administration overturning the Roe V. Wade 1973 US Supreme Court decision, states across the board are put in a position of taking matters into their own hands. The state of New York in particular are in the process of getting the reproductive health act passed. The bill remains in the hands on the New York Senate. The bill is receiving a lot of support from one of Get Organized Brooklyn’s subsidiary groups named, Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights (WHARR). The group holds weekly demonstrations outside of Governor Cuomo’s midtown Manhattan office led by Marjorie Wilner.

“We’re here for the RHA.  A bill that’s been passed three times now by the New York State Assembly and it keeps getting killed in the New York Senate.” Wilner continued, “The reason for that is the IDC, the Independent Democratic Conference, which because of their alliance with the Republicans has given the republicans the majority so they head the committees in the senate and the bill was sent to the health committee headed by a republican who is not even going to bring it to a vote.”

The (WHARR) group plan on using coat hangers in their demonstrations to further their point, hoping to reach Governor Cuomo with their message and make the bill a priority.

“Most people have been quite supportive, but for the most part unless we’re talking to reporters we’ve had a positive response from people,” said Wilner.  “The statistics and polls that are done show that 7 out of 10 Americans support abortion rights.”

The bill is facing an uphill battle since the state senate’s Democratic party is outnumbered by the GOP, but the bill has surprisingly gained support from Republican State Senator John Boracic (R-Orange County).

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey last year on the American public opinion on abortion’s legality, which resulted in 57% Americans supporting the legalization of abortion in all or most cases while 39% opposed the legality of abortion. In a related poll, 69% of white evangelical Protestants support the illegality of abortion while 67% of white mainline Protestants support abortion in 2016. 54% of Catholics support the legality of abortion while 42% believe otherwise.

Whether Governor Cuomo passes the bill remains up in the air, but he did sign a legislation in 2015 with the intent to increase the freedom and protection of women’s equality.

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