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Letter: Health Act Would Protect Reproductive Rights (Utica Observer-Dispatch)

To the Editor:

Your Feb. 2 editorial, “Life should be preserved at all stages,” misrepresents the purpose and effect of the Reproductive Health Act, to be considered by the state Legislature.

Since Roe v. Wade, generations of women have benefited from the constitutional right to make one of life’s most important and personal decisions — whether or when to have a child — without government interference. This act ensures that in New York our rights will be protected in the future.

The bill regulates family planning as a public health issue, i.e., within the state’s public health laws, rather than a crime, i.e, within the state penal codes. This is a sensible change given that abortion is legal. To argue that this would “make abortion immune to state regulation” is nonsense. Under the bill, abortion will be subject to a host of state regulations, like any other medical procedure.

The bill specifies that only licensed and appropriately trained health care providers may perform abortions. Violators would face stiff penalties. This ensures that women can access safe, professional care. The bill also ensures that if continuing a pregnancy jeopardizes a woman’s health, she has safe, legal options.

The bill is about much more than abortion. It’s about autonomy, privacy and dignity. It is about supporting healthy families. It is about health care policy that respects our ability to make personal decisions.

Our legislators need to hear from us who cherish these principles. Otherwise, the rights we have taken for granted for so long may disappear.

Barrie Gewanter
Director, Central New York Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union

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