Support is building among New York officials to approve a constitutional amendment that would address access to abortion services in the state less than a week after a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling was made public that could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
New York Attorney General Letitia James backed an amendment to the constitution stipulating the right to access abortion services in the state as Democratic lawmakers negotiate language for a potential state constitutional amendment.
Incoming Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado in his first public remarks since he was elevated to the post by Gov. Kathy Hochul re-affirmed his support for abortion rights while appearing at the House of Justice in New York City.
Lawmakers are pursuing a package of measures to address the pending Supreme Court decision, which could be handed down by the end of June or early July.
Hochul has previously said she wants to make it easier for women out of the state to access abortion services in New York. If the Roe v. Wade court decision is overturned, abortion policy would return to state governments.
A state constitutional amendment is being considered to bolster abortion laws in New York. An amendment must be approved again next year by state lawmakers before it goes to voters in a referendum.
James, New York’s attorney general, has vowed to preserve abortion access in the state. She endorsed an amendment on Saturday.
“As we’ve seen this week, the right to safe, accessible abortions can be taken away in the blink of an eye,” she said. “No matter what’s happening on the national level, New York must always be a safe haven for anyone seeking an abortion. I firmly support an amendment to the state constitution to protect access to this basic right in New York.”
Lawmakers are debating how expansive to make the language in the amendment. Some legislators favor a broad-based amendment to for gender equality and equity, while others in the Legislature are calling for a more narrowly defined amendment to address abortion access.
Delgado, the designated lieutenant governor, did not take a position on the amendment. But he tied the issue to other rights Democrats see as being reversed on the national level.
“Make no mistake about it, when you’re looking at both the assault on voting rights and the assault on reproductive rights, what we’re fundamentally talking about is controlling bodies,” he said at the National Action Network’s rally this weekend with the Rev. Al Sharpton. “We’re talking about who has control over their body, and how can they use it, and where can they go to exercise their power. This is not a coincidence. It is happening right now, and we can never forget that. And there is no world where we can square going backwards in this way with our commitment as a country to progress and to believing that we are all created equal.”