State lawmakers as early as next week are expected to approve measures meant to strengthen access to abortion services in New York, especially for women from other parts of the country.
Any legislation in New York would be approved weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court potentially overturns the Roe v. Wade ruling. A leaked draft of a potential and likely old version of the ruling has led Democratic lawmakers who control both chambers of the Legislature to call for new laws strengthening the state's abortion laws.
"We're having a lot of discussions among the conference as well as at high levels over what exactly it will be -- will it be an omnibus bill or a package of bills," said Senate Health Committee Chairman Gustavo Rivera. "I can assure you before this legislative session is done New York is going to do a lot to make sure we can further strengthen the rights of people to receive safe and legal abortions."
Lawmakers are likely to consider measures meant to aid women who live out of state and would come to New York for the procedure. Lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul have in recent days suggested measures that would create a fund for out-of-state residents as well as boost telehealth services.
At the federal level, the U.S. Senate is taking up a measure that would codify the Roe v. Wade decision, though it is unlikely to pass.
New York already has some of the strongest abortion access laws on the books. In 2019, the state approved the Reproductive Health Act, which allows for abortions after 24 weeks if a woman's life is in danger or if the fetus is not viable. It also allows licensed or certified health care practioners to perform the procedure.
Lawmakers are considering state constitutional amendments that would enshrine the Reproductive Health Act in the state's constitution as well as broader language that would be meant to ensure gender equality.
"All this is under discussion. I'll underline there's a recognition that this is a four-alarm fire," Rivera said. "When the inevitable happens and Roe becomes a thing of the past, we want to make sure New York is a bulwark for that right."