Gov. Kathy Hochul's policy team is working to develop potential legislation and executive actions to strengthen New York's abortion laws codified into state law and improve protections for out-of-staters and abortion providers.
The governor reiterated in the state Capitol on Tuesday she is "horrified" by the U.S. Supreme Court's leaked draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, as reported by Politico on Monday night.
"As a woman, this is personal," the governor said. "This is something we have fought against for our entire life."
Hochul has repeatedly said the state will be a safe haven for any person seeking reproductive health care, including an abortion, as several states move to impose sweeping abortion bans if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer.
"We are coming up with legislative action ideas to make sure the right [to an abortion] is protected," Hochul said.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins expressed she is astonished and frightened the Supreme Court may take back rights to Americans deemed constitutional 49 years ago.
Any action is possible, said Stewart-Cousins, who would not rule out a constitutional amendment.
State Sen. Liz Krueger sponsors three pieces of legislation to protect abortion providers in New York and women seeking treatment from other states.
"We do not want anybody who's going to be hunted in Texas to be hunted here," Stewart-Cousins said.
"Everything has to be on the table," she added. "We will be talking about and pushing things we know in order to ensure that these rights are protected, funded. This is a conversation that will begin and everything is on the table."
New York passed reproductive rights laws in 1970 — three years before Roe v. Wade — under a Republican majority in the Senate, and with 12 Republicans joining the Democratic majority to vote for the legislation at the time.
Stewart-Cousins advocated for women to have a "full range of access to their rights," and preventing legal abortion leads to unnecessary death.
"I can tell you that people have died because they did not have access to the care that we in this great nation can give them," she said. "I don't want to deprive anyone of having the care they need. I do not want to send women into back alleys and I think that is really what we all have to take into consideration."
State Republican leaders have remained publicly silent about the leaked draft decision.
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican, is pro-life and supported a bill in Congress to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks and joined his Republican colleagues in 2020 in calling to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Hochul presided over the state Senate in 2019 to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which codified protections to legal abortion by any licensed health care practitioner in state law, and permits abortions after 24 weeks if the woman's life or health is at risk or the fetus is not viable.
"I refuse to go backwards," Hochul said. "My promise is here in the state of New York, we will not stand idly by. Anyone who needs care, we welcome you with open arms. We believe access to reproductive health is a human right."
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, a Democrat representing the 19th District who will become the state's next lieutenant governor later this month, was vehement about fighting back against undoing the country's abortion laws.
"Make no mistake, in seeking to overturn nearly 49 years of precedent, the Supreme Court is grounding a social border grounded in the patriarchy and control over a woman's body," Delgado said. "...These decisions are about power and a certain control over a woman's body is about asserting power.
"I do not know how we square going backwards in this way as a country with commitment to progress," Delgado added. "I am wholeheartedly in that fight, and New York, I'm not backing down."
Hochul equally goaded her political opponents in favor of repealing legal abortion protections in New York.
"...My message to those who want to deny that fundamental, that basic right: You don't want to mess with us," Hochul said. "This is a fight you will not win."